Does it ping or pong? Auditory and tactile classification of materials by bouncing events
Authors: Y De Pra, F Fontana, H Järveläinen, S Papetti, M Simonato
Published in: ACM Transactions on Applied Perception (TAP), May 2020, Article No.: 8.
Abstract: Two experiments studied the role of impact sounds and vibrations in classification of materials. The task consisted of feeling on an actuated surface and listening through headphones to the recorded feedback of a ping-pong ball hitting three flat objects respectively made of wood, plastic, and metal, and then identifying their material. In Experiment 1, sounds and vibrations were recorded by keeping the objects in mechanical isolation. In Experiment 2, recordings were taken while the same objects stood on a table, causing their resonances to fade faster due to mechanical coupling with the support. A control experiment, where participants listened to and touched the real objects in mechanical isolation, showed high accuracy of classification from either sounds (90% correct) or vibrations (67% correct). Classification of reproduced bounces in Experiments 1 and 2 was less precise. In both experiments, the main effect of material was statistically significant; conversely, the main effect of modality (auditory or tactile) was significant only in the control. Identification of plastic and especially metal was less accurate in Experiment 2, suggesting that participants, when possible, classified materials by longer resonance tails. Audio-tactile summation of classification accuracy was found, suggesting that multisensory integration influences the perception of materials. Such results have prospective application to the nonvisual design of virtual buttons, which is the object of our current research.