Auditory icons: Design and physical characteristics

João Paulo Cabral, Gerard Bastiaan Remijn

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    Auditory icons are short sound messages that convey information about an object, event or situation. Originally, auditory icons have been used in computer interfaces, but are nowadays found in many other fields. In this review article, an overview is given of the main theoretical ideas behind the use and design of auditory icons. We identified the most common fields in which auditory icons have been used, and analyzed their acoustic characteristics. The review shows that few studies have provided a precise description of the physical characteristics of the sounds in auditory icons, e.g., their intensity level, duration, and frequency range. To improve the validity and replicability of research on auditory icons, and their universal design, precise descriptions of acoustic characteristics should thus be provided.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)224-239
    Number of pages16
    JournalApplied Ergonomics
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Human Factors and Ergonomics
    • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
    • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
    • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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