TwoTone is made by Datavized in partnership with Google News Initiative
Datavized and Google News Initiative today announce the online launch of TwoTone – a free and open-source web browser tool to turn data into sound and music. TwoTone uses a technique called sonification – using audio to convey information. Data sonification, the representation of the data using sound, is as ‘true’ as a visual rendering and any anomalies can be heard, identified and acted upon.
”Our team at Datavized is focused on building simple tools and powerful experiences for the web that take full advantage of the recent updates to browsers. TwoTone lets you hear data, add sound to ‘silent’ visualizations, or add music-making to your personal set of skills. It’s empowering to be able to communicate and create in new ways,” said Hugh McGrory, Co-Founder and CEO, Datavized.
Simon Rogers, Data Editor at Google: “Innovation with technology in newsrooms and with data is only possible for most of us if we have the tools to do it. TwoTone is an exciting tool that promises to make data accessible to everyone.”
“Working with data often involves spotting patterns and trends that may hide behind the numbers or the summary statistics we calculate —the mean, the median, and so forth”, said Alberto Cairo, Knight Chair in Visual Journalism, University of Miami, and Consultant on TwoTone. “Data visualization takes advantage of the brain’s fine-tuned visual capabilities, but we humans have five senses. Why not take advantage of them? This is where TwoTone comes in, contributing to the growing efforts to explore data sonification, but I think that this is just the beginning. I wish that one day someone will invent something called ‘data smellification’ or ‘data scentification’, for instance!”
Key benefits of TwoTone:
TwoTone adds value in two areas:
- Understanding data – turning data into sound has advantages. Just like in the cinema, sound adds another layer to understanding. Sound does not require you to look at a screen, it can fill a room. And sonification can be used to deliver data for people who are visually impaired.
- Making music -TwoTone is a fun and intuitive way to make compositions, without any prior musical or technical knowledge. Data-driven music can be exported as .wav and mp3 files for use in media projects.
Datavized is currently developing example projects in collaboration with city data teams to explore how TwoTone can be used to make city open data more accessible. With Basque Country EUSTAT, Datavized used TwoTone to sonify social behavioral survey data collected every five years, turning ‘use of time’ data from 2013 into a ‘Song of the Day’ that ‘paints a picture’ in music through a time-based sonification story. Using data from the Congressional Budget Office’s “Budget & Economic Outlook Report” published in January 2019, Datavized used TwoTone to express data from two ratios, U.S. debt to GDP, to create a temperature of the U.S. economy yearly from 1949 to 2028, the output gap expressed in sonic form. Using the NYC Open Data Portal, Datavized sonified 311 rodent complaints from 2010 to present, almost a quarter a million calls over eight years, using musical instruments and rhythms to turn these not so pleasant data values into an audio experience. Experimental examples with field audio recordings are also published on the site, including an ambient track of NYC outdoor swimming pool attendance data and a creative musical interpretation of NYC arts survey data, creating a layered multi-instrument composition.
There is no right ‘kind’ of data that can be uploaded to TwoTone, but time-based data sets work especially well; data varies over time in meaningful ways, allowing sonification to add an interesting and useful dimension and the human ear is quite good at detecting patterns over time. The web-app has a guided tour, and includes features to add more nuanced approaches to data storytelling through the use of a narration audio upload, enabling people to add sample audio to each musical scale or as specific data points, or record their own using a built-in mic. The data uploaded to TwoTone is processed fully in the web browser: no server-side operations or storage is performed. TwoTone is designed to be seamlessly integrated into the workflow of a newsroom and used either as a standalone tool for publishing sonification on the web or as a soundtrack builder for multimedia projects. The tool is fully customizable to enable creators to map any data input to the desired audio output.
How does it work?:
- Audio Track – TwoTone will automatically generate an audio track from your data set. You can change your track’s data source or instrument.
- Play Audio – Click the Play button to hear the sound generated from your data.
- Speak Title – Enter a Title to automatically generate text-to-speech, toggle to turn speech on or off. Customize settings for language, gender and voice options.
- Add Audio Track – Generate another audio track automatically from your data set or upload an audio track of your own.
- Adjust Duration – Adjust your total duration, row duration, and tempo (BPM) to speed up or slow down your composition.
- Advanced Features – Adjust the volume of your audio track, filter it by data columns or by value, change the key of your musical scale, or adjust octave, scale range and tempo to create an arpeggio.
- Export Audio – Export your project to an audio file in MP3 or Waveform (PCM) format. MP3 Bit Rate export options are 64 kbps, 128 kbps,, 192 kbps, and 320 kbps.
TwoTone is the second web-based data tool Datavized has built in partnership with Google News Initiative. The first, Morph, turns data into art to allow users to make graphic designs and animations. Datavized is also a recent winner of the Online News Association ‘Journalism 360 Challenge’ for a project in development to build a mobile browser audio editor for 2D and 3D sound.
The launch of TwoTone coincides with 2019 Open Data Week (March 2-9, 2019). Datavized is an official 2019 Open Data Week Partner and is hosting a half-day, hands-on workshop on March 5th on how to use NYC Open Data with Datavized easy to use, data-driven web applications
About Datavized Technologies
Datavized Technologies, Inc. is a software company based in NYC specialized in data-driven products and services, custom tools and 3D experiences for the mobile web. Datavized develops 100% web-based tools that enable individuals and businesses to effortlessly create and distribute compelling digital content. The company’s suite of products include immersive audio and visual applications that work cross-browser and cross-platform, including desktop, mobile, tablet and with virtual and mixed reality headsets.
About Google News Initiative The Google News Initiative is Google’s effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age. The GNI brings together everything Google does in collaboration with the industry—across products, partnerships, and programs—to help build a stronger future for news. It is focused on three objectives: elevate and strengthen quality journalism, evolve business models to drive sustainable growth and empower news organizations through technological innovation.
- Official Site: https://twotone.io
- Web App: https://app.twotone.io
- Documentation: https://github.com/datavized/twotone
Launch Event March 5, 2019 1pm-5pm EST
Google News Initiative
Datavized Technologies Inc
Tel: (917) 363-6027