The University of London is currently testing software that takes sound waves and turns them into visual representations. The software is called Lumisonic, and is designed to help the deaf ad hard-of-hearing “see” sounds. There’s a video on the BBC’s Web site showing it in action. Sadly, I can’t embed it here, so you’ll have to click through.
Basically, as the pitch of a sound lowers, rings on a computer screen contract. Conversely, as the pitch of a sound increases, the rings expand.
The system even uses a Wii controller to help with the sound-to-ring translation. As a fan of technology that actually helps people (vs. grunting like Tim Allen at the sight of a laptop with 8GB of RAM), this very much pleases me.