Simulation and Data Lab Acoustic and Tactile Engineering

Simulation and Data Lab Acoustic and Tactile Engineering

Major Competencies

Specializing in research and product development, the Acoustic and Tactile Engineering (ACUTE) lab has a prominent track record in creating wearable assistive devices tailored for visually impaired individuals and cochlear implant recipients. Beyond this primary focus, the lab excels in delivering virtual acoustics with unparalleled realism and spearheads innovations in multi-channel recording/playback. Collaborative ventures span esteemed institutions and industry leaders such as Oticon Medical, DTU (Technical University of Denmark), University of Southampton, and Treble Technologies.


Expertise in Vibrotactile Perception

Profound knowledge in the realm of vibrotactile spatial acuity and perception, understanding the intricacies of how different tactile intensities and localizations are processed and perceived. This expertise extends to the examination of systematic localization errors and the effects of varying tactor types.


Audio-Haptic Sensory Substitution

Recognized for pioneering work in the domain of sensory substitution, specifically the transformation of visual data into audio-haptic representations. This includes the development of techniques for enhancing spatial awareness for the visually impaired and the creation of auditory depth maps based on innovative sound schemes.


Collaborative Research in Audio Engineering

Engaged in cutting-edge research collaborations, this competency entails the study of spatial audio technologies and their potential applications, especially in assisting visually impaired individuals. The approach is enriched by collaborating with diverse entities and applying advanced auditory sensory substitution models to real-world challenges.




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Head of the lab

Dr. Ing. Finnur Pind

CEO at Treble

Dr. Finnur Pind received his MSc in acoustical engineering in 2013 from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), and his PhD from the same institution in 2020. His PhD research was centered on virtual acoustics and was done in collaboration with the architectural studio Henning Larsen. Between his MSc and PhD studies, Finnur was an acoustic consultant in the building industry for some three years, and before entering the world of acoustics he was a software engineer in the telecom industry. His research interests include wave-based (numerical) acoustic simulations, acoustic virtual reality, room surface modeling, high-performance computing and spatial audio. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the ACUTE (Acoustics and Tactile Engineering) group at the University of Iceland and co-founder / CEO of Treble Technologies, which develops state-of-the-art virtual acoustics software.

Head of the lab

Ph.D. Student Eric Michael Sumner

Ph.D. Student in Computational Engineering

Eric received a B.S.E.E. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2005.  He then gained industry experience working as a software engineer at various startups, including, Inc and Facebook, Inc.  He returned to academia in 2019, receiving a M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Iceland in 2021.  Eric is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Computational Engineering at the University of Iceland as a member of both the High Productivity Data Processing (HPDP) research group and the laboratory for Acoustic and Tactile Engineering (ACUTE).  Eric’s current research involves the application of machine learning techniques to study the acoustic properties of the outer ear.

Head of the lab

Prof. Dr. Ing Rúnar Unnþórsson

Head of the faculty of industrial engineering, mechanical engineering and computer science at University of Iceland

Dr. Runar Unnthorsson is a Professor (100%) at the faculty of Industrial engineering, Mechanical engineering, and Computer Science at the University of Iceland.   Rúnar’s main research interests are in performance engineering and the engineering application of acoustics / vibrations for sensory substitution, non-destructive evaluations, tactile/acoustic displays and product design.

Prof. Runar Unnthorsson, coordinated the 4M€ H2020 RIA project Sound of Vision (no. 643636) which was carried out in the years 2015-2017.  The project received the EC’s 2018 Innovation Radar Prize in the category Tech for Society for the development of an assistive device for the visually impaired. In 2017, the lab was awarded the 2nd prize for its tactile display at the University of Iceland’s Science and Innovation Awards.  The ACUTE lab is currently working on the development of the tactile display – with support from the Technology Development Fund (

Head of the lab

Prof. Elvar Atli Ævarsson

Adjunct Lecturer at University of Iceland

Elvar Atli Ævarsson worked as an electronics technician for many years, specialising in professional sound system installation. He completed his MSc degree in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Iceland in 2020, having spent time as an exchange student at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) taking acoustical engineering courses. He is currently a PhD student in industrial engineering at the University of Iceland, working with the ACUTE group and focusing on audio-tactile integration

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Projects & Cooperations

All IHPC Projects
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Selected Publications


[1] Hoffmann, R., Brinkhuis M.A.B., Unnthorsson, Runar, Kristjansson, Arni, The Intensity Order Illusion: Temporal Order of Different Vibrotactile Intensity Causes Systematic Localization Error, Journal of Neurophysiology, Volume 122, Issue 4, October 2019, Pages 1810-1820,

[2] Simone Spagnol, Rebekka Hoffmann, Marcelo Herrera Martínez, Runar Unnthorsson, Blind wayfinding with physically-based liquid sounds, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies,Volume 115, Pages 9-19, 2018,

[3] Simone Spagnol, György Wersényi, Michal Bujacz, et al., “Current Use and Future Perspectives of Spatial Audio Technologies in Electronic Travel Aids,” Wireless Comm. and Mobile Comp. 2018

[4] S.Spagnol, K. B. Purkhús, S. K. Björnsson and R. Unnthórsson – A head-related transfer function dataset of KEMAR with various pinna shapes, XXII Colloquium of Musical Informatics Udine, November 20-23, 2018

[5] Hoffmann R., Brinkhuis M., Kristjánsson Á. and Unnthorsson R. (2018). Introducing a New Haptic Illusion to Increase the Perceived Resolution of Tactile Displays.In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Computer-Human Interaction Research and Applications – Volume 1: CHIRA, ISBN 978-989-758-328-5, pages 45-53. DOI: 10.5220/0006899700450053

[6] Hoffmann, R., Valgeirsdóttir, V.V., Jóhannesson, Ó.I., Kristjansson, Arni, Runar Unnthorsson, Measuring relative vibrotactile spatial acuity: effects of tactor type, anchor points and tactile anisotropy, Exp Brain Res (2018).

[7] Simone Spagnol, György Wersényi, Michal Bujacz,Oana Bălan, Marcelo Herrera Martínez, Alin Moldoveanu and Runar Unnthorsson, Current Use and Future Perspectives of Spatial Audio Technologies in Electronic Travel Aids, Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing, vol. 2018 doi:10.1155/2018/3918284

[8] Hoffmann, Rebekka; Spagnol, Simone; Kristjánsson, Árni; Unnthorsson, Runar. Evaluation of an Audio-haptic Sensory Substitution Device for Enhancing Spatial Awareness for the Visually Impaired, Optometry and Vision Science: September 2018 – Volume 95 – Issue 9 – p 757–765

[9] Alin Moldoveanu, Oana Balan, Maria-Iuliana Dascalu, Iulia Stanica, Constanta-Nicoleta Bodea, Rúnar Unnþórsson, Florica Moldoveanu (2017). Sound Of Vision 3d Virtual Training Environments – A Gamification Approach For Visual To Audio-Haptic Sensory Substitution. Revue Roumaine des Sciences Techniques-Serie Electrotechnique et Energetique, Issue: 1 | Pp.: 112-117,2018, Romanian Academy, Publishing House of the Romanian Academy,ISSN: 0035- 4066

[10] A. Csapo, S. Spagnol, M. Herrera Martinez, M. Bujacz, M. Janeczek, G. Ivanica, G. Wersenyi, A. Moldoveanu, and R. Unnthorsson. Usability and effectiveness of auditory sensory substitution models for the visually impaired. In Proc. 142nd Conv. Audio Engineering Society, May 2017.

[11] Johannesson, Omar I.; Hoffmann, Rebekka; Valgeirsdottir, Vigdis Vala; Unnthorsson, Runar; Moldoveanu, Alin; Kristjansson, Arni, Relative vibrotactile spatial acuity of the torso, EXPERIMENTAL BRAIN RESEARCH Volume: 235 Issue: 11 Pages: 3505-3515, 2017

[12] S. Spagnol, S. Baldan, and R. Unnthorsson. Auditory depth map representations with a sensory substitution scheme based on synthetic fluid sounds. In Proc. IEEE Int. Workshop on Multimedia Signal Processing (MMSP 2017), Luton, October 2017.

[13] Ómar I Jóhannesson, Oana Balan, Runar Unnthorsson, Alin Moldoveanu, Árni Kristjánsson, The Sound of Vision Project: On the Feasibility of an Audio-Haptic Representation of the Environment, for the Visually Impaired, Brain Sci. 2016, 6(3), 20; doi:10.3390/brainsci6030020

[14] Kristjánsson Á, Moldoveanu A, Jóhannesson ÓI, Balan O, Spagnol S, Valgeirsdóttir VV, Unnthorsson R. (2016). Designing sensory-substitution devices: Principles, pitfalls and potential1. Restorative neurology and neuroscience, 34(5), 769-787

[15] Spagnol, S.; Saitis, C.; Bujacz, M.; Jóhannesson, Ó. I.; Kalimeri, K.; Moldoveanu, A.; Kristjánsson, Á. & Unnthorsson, R. Model-Based Obstacle Sonification for the Navigation of Visually Impaired Persons. Proc. 19th Int. Conf. Digital Audio Effects (DAFx-16), Czech Republic, September 2016.

[16] M. Bujacz, K. Kropidlowski, G. Ivanica, A. Moldoveanu, C. Saitis, A. Csapo, G. Wersenyi, S. Spagnol, O. Johannesson, R. Unnthorsson, M. Rotnicki, and P. Witek.Sound of Vision – Spatial audio output and sonification approaches. Chapter in Computers Helping People with Special Needs, edited by K. Miesenberger, C. Buehler, and P. Penaz, pages 202-209, Springer, July 2016

[17] Yeganeh, Nashmin, Ivan Makarov, Snorri Steinn Stefánsson Thors, Árni Kristjánsson, and Runar Unnthorsson. 2023. Evaluating the Optimum Distance between Voice Coil Actuators Using the Relative Point Localization Method on the Forearm. Actuators 12, no. 1: 6.

[18] Elvar Atli Ævarsson, Thórhildur Ásgeirsdóttir, Finnur Pind, Árni Kristjánsson, and Runar Unnthorsson. 2022. Vibrotactile Threshold Measurements at the Wrist Using Parallel Vibration Actuators. ACM Trans. Appl. Percept. 19, 3, Article 10 (July 2022), 11 pages.

[19] Spagnol, Simone; Purkhús, Kristján Bjarki; Unnthorsson, Rúnar; Björnsson, Sverrir Karl.The Viking HRTF dataset (2019) Proceedings of the Sound and Music Computing Conferences, pp. 55 – 60,

[20] P. Strumillo, M. Bujacz, P. Baranski, P. Skulimowski, P. Korbel, M. Owczarek, K. Tomalczyk, A. Moldoveanu & R. Unnthorsson. (2018). Different Approaches to Aiding Blind Persons in Mobility and Navigation in the “Naviton” and “Sound of Vision” Projects. In: Pissaloux, E., Velazquez, R. (eds) Mobility of Visually Impaired People. Springer, Cham.

[21] Serafin, Stefania; Dahl, Sofia; Bresin, Roberto; Jensenius, Alexander Refsum; Unnthorsson, Runar; Välimäki, Vesa. NordicSMC: A nordic university hub on sound and music computing. (2018) Proceedings of the 15th Sound and Music Computing Conference: Sonic Crossings, SMC 2018, pp. 124 – 128,

[22] Bălan, Oana; Moldoveanu, Alin; Moldoveanu, Florica; Nagy, Hunor;Wersényi, György; Unnþórsson, Rúnar. Improving the audio game–playing performances of people with visual impairments through multimodal training (2017) Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 111 (2), pp. 148 – 164,×1711100206