Acoustic and Tactile Engineering

General information

The focus of the Acoustic and Tactile Engineering (ACUTE) lab is both on research and product development.  For the last few years, our main focus has been on the development of wearable assistive devices for visually impaired persons and cochlear implant recipients.  We are also working on other projects, such as solutions for delivering virtual acoustics (i.e., sounds generated by computers) as realistically as possible and on multi-channel recording/playback.

Some of our current collaborations include; Oticon Medical, DTU (Technical University of Denmark), University of Southampton and Treble technologies.






Prof. Dr. Ing Rúnar Unnþórsson

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 (


Dr. Ing. Finnur Pind

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.


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.




[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



Conference Proceedings

[1] Marius George Onofrei, Riccardo Miccini, Runar Unnthorsson, Stefania Serafin, & Simone Spagnol. (2020). 3D ear shape as an estimator of HRTF notch frequency. Proceedings of the 17th Sound and Music Computing Conference, Torino, June 24th – 26th 2020

[2] S.Spagnol, K. B. Purkhús, S. K. Björnsson and R. Unnthórsson – A head-related transfer function dataset of KEMAR with various pinna shapes, SMC 2019 Proceedings of the 16th Sound & Music Computing Conference.  Society for Sound and Music Computing.  ISBN 978-84-09-08518-7, ISSN 2518-3672.  P1.8.  s 55-60

[3] Spagnol, S., Purkhús, K. B., Björnsson, S. K., & Unnthórsson, R. (2019). Misure di HRTF su una testa KEMAR con padiglioni auricolari intercambiabili. In Atti del XXII Colloquio di Informatica Musicale (XXII CIM) (pp. 47-52). Udine, Italy.

[4] Mathias Lyneborg Damgård, Elvar Atli Ævarsson, Runar Unnthorsson and Árni Kristjánsson, Evaluation of Two Music Tactile Display Encodings for Cochlear Implant Recipients, In Proc. 1st Nordic Sound and Music Computing Conf., pages 42-47, Stockholm, November 2019.

[5] Elvar Atli Ævarsson, Mathias Lyneborg Damgaard, Árni Kristjánsson and Runar Unnthorsson, Design of an In-Lab Experimentation Rack System for the ACUTE Multi-Channel Tactile System, In Proc. 1st Nordic Sound and Music Computing Conf., pages 32-35, Stockholm, November 2019.

Book chapters

[1] Strumillo P. et al. (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, ChamBujacz, M., Kropidlowski, K., Ivanica, G., Moldoveanu, A., Saitis, C., Csapo, A., Wersenyi, G., Spagnol, S., Johannesson, O.I., Unnthorsson, R., Rotnicki, M. & Witek, P. 2016, Sound of vision – Spatial audio output and sonification approaches. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (Including Subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics). Vol. 9759.

[2] Rúnar Unnþórsson (2013). Hit Detection and Determination in AE Bursts, Acoustic Emission – Research and Applications, Dr. Wojciech Sikorski (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-1015-6, InTech

[3] Rúnar Unnþórsson (2012). Identifying and Monitoring Evolving AE Sources, Acoustic Emission, Dr. Wojciech Sikorski (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0056-0, InTech,