Spatial Audio and VR/AR


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Saw this article today - "spatial audio" specifically discussed as a key component to virtual reality (VR), albeit in a corporate setting and no mention of Apple Music or music in general. This is more related to the headphone version of spatial audio where if you turn your head, you hear what you are looking at. Even though not specifically related to multichannel music, the reason I bring it up is it will be interesting to see where they take the technology, and whether or not this is a good thing or bad thing for Atmos music in the future. "Good" if the continued advancement of the technology makes spatial audio so common that it will be everywhere - in music, TV, movies, VR, video games etc. etc. ("a rising tide lifts all boats"). "Bad" if the focus of the technology is solely on the VR aspects and the strictly music aspect gets left behind. The next couple of years should be very interesting for our hobby...

Note, this may be hidden behind a Wall Street Journal paywall but here is an excerpt from the article (which also includes a link to a paper called "Spatial Sound Concepts for F-Formations in Social VR":

(Excerpt from WSJ article by Christopher Mims April 9, 2022)

Part of the reason this kind of socializing works in virtual environments is that something called “spatial audio” is becoming standard in shared VR experiences. The idea is that sound in these environments works the way it does in real life: It’s in stereo, and people’s voices get louder or quieter depending on how close to them you are. In contrast to Zoom, where the spotlight must always be on one person, and side conversations are difficult, and Slack or Teams, in which everyone sees messages dropped in the main channel, this allows the kind of fluid formation and dissolution of conversational circles usually only possible in real life.

Hitting the (virtual) links

Spatial audio is also a feature of casual shared VR games like “Walkabout Mini Golf,” in which I recently hit the virtual links—admittedly, this was more like virtual putt-putt than a country club course—with employees of Mural, a company that makes “digital whiteboard” tools for visual collaboration among other remote workers.