Forums

Tone Deafness

Started by Tim Wescott August 14, 2013
Like a good percentage of human males, I'm partially color blind to green 
and red.  In my case, it's enough that I can't tell the difference 
between a green or a red LED -- so a piece of equipment that depends on 
the operator being able to see the color of a bi-color LED is totally 
useless to me.

Needless to say, this is irritating.

Does anyone on the group know how many people are really, truly tone 
deaf?  I don't just mean unable to hear when they're playing out of tune, 
but people who are unable to tell the difference between a "beep" and a 
"boop" when it's coming out of a piece of electronic equipment?

I'm thinking of communicating status via a beeper, and for obvious 
reasons I don't want to do the same "bicolor LED" crap to someone, only 
with sound.

-- 

Tim Wescott
Wescott Design Services
http://www.wescottdesign.com

On Wed, 14 Aug 2013 17:24:54 -0500
Tim Wescott <tim@seemywebsite.really> wrote:

> Like a good percentage of human males, I'm partially color blind to green > and red. In my case, it's enough that I can't tell the difference > between a green or a red LED -- so a piece of equipment that depends on > the operator being able to see the color of a bi-color LED is totally > useless to me. > > Needless to say, this is irritating. > > Does anyone on the group know how many people are really, truly tone > deaf? I don't just mean unable to hear when they're playing out of tune, > but people who are unable to tell the difference between a "beep" and a > "boop" when it's coming out of a piece of electronic equipment? > > I'm thinking of communicating status via a beeper, and for obvious > reasons I don't want to do the same "bicolor LED" crap to someone, only > with sound. > > -- > > Tim Wescott > Wescott Design Services > http://www.wescottdesign.com >
I can't imagine how that could be the case for anyone that wasn't completely deaf. Not being able to tell an A from a C is one thing, but it seems like if you couldn't resolve octave differences you wouldn't be able to understand English, let alone a tonal language like Mandarin. Ears are just simpler hardware. -- Rob Gaddi, Highland Technology -- www.highlandtechnology.com Email address domain is currently out of order. See above to fix.
On Wed, 14 Aug 2013 17:24:54 -0500, Tim Wescott wrote:

> Like a good percentage of human males, I'm partially color blind to > green and red. In my case, it's enough that I can't tell the difference > between a green or a red LED -- so a piece of equipment that depends on > the operator being able to see the color of a bi-color LED is totally > useless to me. > > Needless to say, this is irritating. > > Does anyone on the group know how many people are really, truly tone > deaf? I don't just mean unable to hear when they're playing out of > tune, but people who are unable to tell the difference between a "beep" > and a "boop" when it's coming out of a piece of electronic equipment? > > I'm thinking of communicating status via a beeper, and for obvious > reasons I don't want to do the same "bicolor LED" crap to someone, only > with sound.
Avoiding answering the question directly (that's the Usenet way, isn't it?): Tone discrimination seems to be culturally mediated - some asian languages are tonally dependent, and amazingly enough people from those lands have a much higher incidence of "perfect pitch". In western cultures perfect pitch is a small minority. That aside, I'd think about using tonal patterns - either changing frequency, or making a quasi-Morse-code out of it. There are some people that simply can't "get" melody, but I'm fairly sure these are comparatively rare. Maybe go all the way and synthesize voice messages! Oh yes - one day your color blindness may be history. It's only been tested in monkeys so far - but these animals (color blind from birth) have been genetically treated to express color sensitive chemicals in their retinal cone cells that they had lacked. It has yet to be tested in humans (so far). Not soon enough for your application, I'm sure :)
On 14/08/2013 23:24, Tim Wescott wrote:
> Like a good percentage of human males, I'm partially color blind to > green and red. In my case, it's enough that I can't tell the > difference between a green or a red LED -- so a piece of equipment > that depends on the operator being able to see the color of a > bi-color LED is totally useless to me. > > Needless to say, this is irritating. > > Does anyone on the group know how many people are really, truly tone > deaf? I don't just mean unable to hear when they're playing out of > tune, but people who are unable to tell the difference between a > "beep" and a "boop" when it's coming out of a piece of electronic > equipment? > > I'm thinking of communicating status via a beeper, and for obvious > reasons I don't want to do the same "bicolor LED" crap to someone, > only with sound.
Reg/Green colour blindness is very common. I thought most people could discern blue and red. I'm sure the same is true with frequency. One issue with frequency is for most people pitch is relative, such that I can tell the difference between two notes one after the other, but I would be unlikely to discern which is which if you produced just the one. Perfect pitch hearing is very rare. However I would have thought a form of modulation could overcome any colour blindness or extreme tone deafness.
On 14/08/2013 23:24, Tim Wescott wrote:
> Like a good percentage of human males, I'm partially color blind to green > and red. In my case, it's enough that I can't tell the difference > between a green or a red LED -- so a piece of equipment that depends on > the operator being able to see the color of a bi-color LED is totally > useless to me.
<snip> My Dad is green/red colour blind. He wired up the garden shed with our now old-fashioned red/black/green (live/neutral/earth) cable. He could tell a difference, but didn't know which was which. I'm not colour-blind. I fitted some more sockets. There was an incident. Cheers -- Syd
On 14/08/2013 23:24, Tim Wescott wrote:
> Like a good percentage of human males, I'm partially color blind to green > and red. In my case, it's enough that I can't tell the difference > between a green or a red LED -- so a piece of equipment that depends on > the operator being able to see the color of a bi-color LED is totally > useless to me. > > Needless to say, this is irritating. > > Does anyone on the group know how many people are really, truly tone > deaf? I don't just mean unable to hear when they're playing out of tune, > but people who are unable to tell the difference between a "beep" and a > "boop" when it's coming out of a piece of electronic equipment? > > I'm thinking of communicating status via a beeper, and for obvious > reasons I don't want to do the same "bicolor LED" crap to someone, only > with sound. >
I'm working with a USB thingy at the moment, trying to interface to some comms gear through a PC. It goes hi-lo (be-dop) when I unplug it, and lo-hi (bo-dip) when I plug it in. Fortunately, I'm not tone deaf, but it's hard to understand how anyone couldn't tell the large difference between two consecutive notes. Cheers -- Syd
On Wed, 14 Aug 2013 17:24:54 -0500, Tim Wescott
<tim@seemywebsite.really> wrote:

>Like a good percentage of human males, I'm partially color blind to green >and red. In my case, it's enough that I can't tell the difference >between a green or a red LED -- so a piece of equipment that depends on >the operator being able to see the color of a bi-color LED is totally >useless to me. > >Needless to say, this is irritating. > >Does anyone on the group know how many people are really, truly tone >deaf? I don't just mean unable to hear when they're playing out of tune, >but people who are unable to tell the difference between a "beep" and a >"boop" when it's coming out of a piece of electronic equipment? > >I'm thinking of communicating status via a beeper, and for obvious >reasons I don't want to do the same "bicolor LED" crap to someone, only >with sound.
I hate those piezo beepers. They are annoying, and hard to localize. If you use a small speaker, you can synthesize bell sounds, chirps, patterns, structured stuff that sounds nicer and is easier for everyone to distinguish. Make a cheerful sound for good things, a raunchy one for errors, modulate amplitude if it might mean something. I'm not tone deaf (my hearing is great, mechanically) but I don't like music and I have a very hard time understanding accents. It's a signal-processing thing. -- John Larkin Highland Technology, Inc jlarkin at highlandtechnology dot com http://www.highlandtechnology.com Precision electronic instrumentation Picosecond-resolution Digital Delay and Pulse generators Custom laser drivers and controllers Photonics and fiberoptic TTL data links VME thermocouple, LVDT, synchro acquisition and simulation
On Wed, 14 Aug 2013 16:14:25 -0700, John Larkin wrote:

> On Wed, 14 Aug 2013 17:24:54 -0500, Tim Wescott > <tim@seemywebsite.really> wrote: > >>Like a good percentage of human males, I'm partially color blind to >>green and red. In my case, it's enough that I can't tell the difference >>between a green or a red LED -- so a piece of equipment that depends on >>the operator being able to see the color of a bi-color LED is totally >>useless to me. >> >>Needless to say, this is irritating. >> >>Does anyone on the group know how many people are really, truly tone >>deaf? I don't just mean unable to hear when they're playing out of >>tune, >>but people who are unable to tell the difference between a "beep" and a >>"boop" when it's coming out of a piece of electronic equipment? >> >>I'm thinking of communicating status via a beeper, and for obvious >>reasons I don't want to do the same "bicolor LED" crap to someone, only >>with sound. > > I hate those piezo beepers. They are annoying, and hard to localize. > > If you use a small speaker, you can synthesize bell sounds, chirps, > patterns, structured stuff that sounds nicer and is easier for everyone > to distinguish. Make a cheerful sound for good things, a raunchy one for > errors, modulate amplitude if it might mean something.
It's an add-on to an existing product, so I don't get much choice in annunciators. -- Tim Wescott Wescott Design Services http://www.wescottdesign.com
Hi Tim,

On 8/14/2013 3:24 PM, Tim Wescott wrote:
> Like a good percentage of human males, I'm partially color blind to green > and red. In my case, it's enough that I can't tell the difference > between a green or a red LED -- so a piece of equipment that depends on > the operator being able to see the color of a bi-color LED is totally > useless to me.
IIRC, it's something like 1 in 15 (among men). What's amazing is how ignorant many people are of this fact -- esp folks who ADVOCATE the use of color in indicators! (Low light conditions also wash out color sensitivity in most people)
> Needless to say, this is irritating. > > Does anyone on the group know how many people are really, truly tone > deaf? I don't just mean unable to hear when they're playing out of tune, > but people who are unable to tell the difference between a "beep" and a > "boop" when it's coming out of a piece of electronic equipment?
Depends on what you mean by "Tone deaf". Many people can't carry a tune in a bucket -- yet can synthesize and recognize *difference* in tone. Most musicians *don't* have "perfect" pitch but, instead, rely on "relative pitch" (recalling the ratios of frequencies though requiring "calibration" to some recently heard "reference tone")
> I'm thinking of communicating status via a beeper, and for obvious > reasons I don't want to do the same "bicolor LED" crap to someone, only > with sound.
Modulate (gate) the sound to that it manifests as short and long "sounds" and "silences". Taking care to include a long and a short in each "report" to serve as a reference for the user. Of course, you also have to avoid the extremes in frequency range as they tend to alter with age (stick to the sweet spot -- speech -- in the audio band). The same applies to blinking indicators -- regardless of whether they are multicolor or monochromatic. Trying to address accessibility issues involves quite a bit more. E.g., dealing with a *deaf* user will leave you stumped! Hearing users can have their attention drawn to <something> with a percussive noise. When the party you're interested in can't perceive this, you have to come up with other ways to get them to *notice* the flashing light, etc. Think about how your product is normally used, interacted with, etc. and see how you can inject an "asynchronous notification" therein.
Tim Wescott wrote:
> Like a good percentage of human males, I'm partially color blind to green > and red. In my case, it's enough that I can't tell the difference > between a green or a red LED -- so a piece of equipment that depends on > the operator being able to see the color of a bi-color LED is totally > useless to me. > > Needless to say, this is irritating. > > Does anyone on the group know how many people are really, truly tone > deaf? I don't just mean unable to hear when they're playing out of tune, > but people who are unable to tell the difference between a "beep" and a > "boop" when it's coming out of a piece of electronic equipment? > > I'm thinking of communicating status via a beeper, and for obvious > reasons I don't want to do the same "bicolor LED" crap to someone, only > with sound. >
Personally I think it's best to use code. Beeeeeep - good. Bip .. bip .. bip .. bip - sumpthin's wrong. No sound - it ain't working. I wish that was the same for optical displays. A client goes a step further. They are using morse code to announce the status of a system. I could turn it on, go down the hallway and into the kitchen to get a glass of water and still hear whether it started up alright and what firmware version is in it. -- Regards, Joerg http://www.analogconsultants.com/