Musicons are an audio notification type created from extremely brief samples of well-known music. The number of audio messages that are required to be communicated between the computer and the user has increased. Applications such as calendars, social networking tools, instant messengers or SMS and telephony services, on both mobile and static computing devices, may need to present sporadic notifications and alerts to the user.
Reminder and notification systems are important for providing memory aids for people with cognitive impairments and supporting independent living for older adults. However, audio notifications are subject to a trade-off between ease of comprehension and confidentiality: as sounds become easier to learn they often become less confidential, and vice versa. Subsequently, it is desirable to use sounds that can balance this trade-off effectively.
Real music is a useful medium in this context as it allows a designer to harness exiting associations and emotive memories a user may have with certain pieces of music in order to create reminders and notifications that are personal, potentially more memorable and easier to learn. Furthermore, familiar pieces of music can be recognised from samples as short as 0.2 seconds in length. Therefore Musicons created from music that is well known to the user can be made extremely short which can help increase confidentiality.