Sounds like a stock to keep an ear on

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Research Round - Up - Bernard Lane

ROGER Dean is a pro­fes­sor of sonic com­mu­ni­ca­tion, prob­a­bly the only one in the coun­try.

‘‘ I look upon it as em­brac­ing how you make sound ar­ti­fi­cially and how it’s made in the en­vi­ron­ment, how they share im­pacts on peo­ple and how they can be dis­tin­guished,’’ he says.

A com­poser and mu­si­cian, Dean was a bio­chemist and vice- chan­cel­lor be­fore join­ing MARCS Au­di­tory Lab­o­ra­to­ries at the Univer­sity of West­ern Syd­ney.

One of his projects, in keep­ing with his un­usual breadth of in­ter­ests, is to sonify what goes on in trad­ing rooms of the kind staffed by the big banks.

As things stand, a trader may keep track of all sorts of things — a given share price, for ex­am­ple, an in­dex for some sec­tor of a mar­ket and so on — by watch­ing two or three screens.

Dean and other re­searchers are in the early stages of work­ing out how to use streams of sound so traders can take in in­for­ma­tion and warn­ings.

‘‘ You can walk around, you can be hav­ing your cup of cof­fee, you can still hear it,’’ he says.

The depth of a mar­ket might be com­mu­ni­cated by pitch, while loud­ness could sig­nal the value of trade. Four or so speak­ers, each car­ry­ing two or three streams of sound, could sit in the cor­ners of a trad­ing room.

‘‘ Peo­ple lis­ten­ing to mu­sic can lis­ten to at least eight streams ( be­ing var­i­ous in­stru­ments and mu­si­cal pat­terns),’’ Dean says. A trader sit­ting in the mid­dle of a room, the sweet spot, would be able to hear all the streams. With a touch of a but­ton, a stream sig­nalling some­thing of im­por­tance could be turned up and tuned in.

Dean says speed of de­ci­sion- mak­ing would be the chief ben­e­fit and traders would be less likely to make the mis­take of not at­tend­ing to the right in­di­ca­tor or warn­ing at the right time.

‘‘ Au­di­tory loom­ing’’, a prop­erty of sound that at­tracts at­ten­tion, could be one use­ful fea­ture.

An­other ben­e­fit, and one rea­son for the in­volve­ment of the Cap­i­tal Mar­kets Co- oper­a­tive Re­search Cen­tre, is that sound streams could also be used to de­tect dodgy or fraud­u­lent trad­ing.

Dean says there is plenty of work to be done to tai­lor soni­fi­ca­tion to traders, who might be trad­ing any­thing from de­riv­a­tives to wa­ter or en­ergy.

He says the trick is to de­vise sound streams that make sense to traders, that they find at­trac­tive and user- friendly.

‘‘ One of the prob­lems with soni­fi­ca­tion is that peo­ple get bored with it,’’ he says. It’s not un­known for air­line pi­lots to turn off au­to­mated warn­ing sig­nals that ir­ri­tate them.

As the project moves along, Dean would like to get some traders in­volved.

‘‘ The very small num­ber ( of trad­ing rooms) that we ap­proached were not in­ter­ested in in­vest­ing in the idea; they were in­ter­ested in the idea,’’ he says. ‘‘ We would like to work with some trad­ing rooms.’’

Surely an early adopter of soni­fi­ca­tion might have an edge over com­peti­tors? ‘‘ That’s what I would ar­gue,’’ he says.

Sonic re­ducer: Roger Dean of the Univer­sity of West­ern Syd­ney

Pic­ture: Gra­ham Crouch

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.