Audio for innovators and makers is getting seriously smart
As Voice moves into new environments such as AR/VR and Gaming and Virtual Conferencing- the aural interface becomes critical to producing a truly immersive experience that can take the place of in-person communication.
The vital component is often over-looked
When playing video games, or adapting your perceptions to virtual or augmented reality, one thing is apparent - creating immersion is difficult. You can have all the impressive visuals you want, but without the right sound complimenting the experience, the illusion is easy to break.
It was Alan Blumlein back in the 1930s who first discovered that two channels of audio were better than one, and since then, the term 'immersive audio' has typically been associated with surround sound.
The limitations of surround sound are that the listener is passively fixed in a set location, with speakers in a particular arrangement to give the illusion of space, which leaves no room for any form of interaction. This might be fine for movie theaters - less so for games or music.
Now with 2017 poised to take VR mainstream with devices such as the Oculus Rift. Vive and Playstation VR headset, the demand is rocketing for audio devices that are capable of truly immersive 3D-audio.
Virtual Immersion and Audioscapes
As Voice moves into these digital realms, it's the audio interface that becomes critical to produce truly immersive experiences. This is a sentiment shared by OSSIC – audio innovators who have approached the customization of audio from an entirely new angle by actually taking into account the physical geometry of an individual's ear and adapting the audio response accordingly.
Doing so allows OSSIC to provide deeper levels of immersion through a more accurate representation of the audio space.
The OSSIC X
OSSIC had a pretty successful 2016 by anyone's standards. Having raised over $2.7 million and selling more than 10,000 units so far on Kickstarter, the OSSIC X is set to be a real game changer, and a flagship piece of tech for 3D audio.
Having won the Greatest Innovations in Tech 2016 award by Popular Science Magazine, attention reached fever pitch after the team travelled to CES 2017 and picked up a CES Best of Innovation honouree as well. But aside from the company's success, what do we know about the tech itself?
Unlike traditional headphones, the OSSIC X instantly calibrates to the individual wearer, and uses eight separate drivers to play sound in the exact portion of their ear, creating totally immersive 3D-audio.
What's particularly ingenious about this (especially for gaming), is that it that sound stays 'fixed' in space, meaning that your in game character (or VR self) can move 360 degrees around the source of virtual sound, and what you would hear would have a higher level of acoustic presence and immersion.
Imagine speaking with another person online and tilting your head in order to better hear what they are saying, or gauge their direction, that's the kind of unique experience the OSSIC X will create.
This kind of technology isn't limited to gaming alone, however. 3D-audio, or ambisonics are being used more and more in 360 degree videos on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, that up until this point have been limited to rely on binaural stereo output.
The OSSIC X is set for a 2017 release, and is available for pre-order now at a price of $299.