The Future of Audio


Today I would like to share with you a powerful experience I had recently in Seattle. It does not happen very often to me to hear something which changes my perspective and opens new doors for creativity. I carefully treasure these moments in my memory as a challenge for my own work.

Last week I had an opportunity to attend a conference focused on Audio for VR/AR. During the conference, we went on a tour to Microsoft Audio Research (thanks to the hospitality of Ivan Tashev and Hannes Gamper). Inside a room, we were invited to experience a demo dedicated to audio for augmented reality. The room was very small. On the floor, chairs, and tables different sizes of speakers were standing. There was also a phone, an FM radio and some bells. I put on the headphones and the show started. Each of the objects in the room played sound one after another. The audio was played by speakers, bells, phone, someone was knocking at the door. At least, that is what I was convinced of. In fact, all of the sounds were virtual, rendered to my headphones. The movement of my head was tracked and the sound changed depending on my position.

I had never heard anything like that. My brain was perfectly tricked that the sounds were coming from the objects in the room. When someone knocked at the door, I was not able to distinguish if it was real or not. The rendering was smooth and natural. Even though I tried to break the illusion by moving up and down, further and closer to the objects, I did not manage. My brain kept convincing me that what I heard was coming from the real world.

This experience makes me think that we are closer to future reality for audio than we think. And motivates me strongly to recreate this experience in our lab. I can’t wait to hear Al Di Meola playing Oblivión in my kitchen.


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