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article imageGoogle launches new spatial audio toolkit to help VR sound design

By James Walker     Nov 7, 2017 in Technology
Google's announced a new spatial sound development kit that helps developers integrate realistic surround sound into VR applications. Resonance Audio works across platforms and on any device, ranging from smartphones through to desktop VR headsets.
Google said Resonance Audio is meant to let developers create experiences where you feel "like you're really there." Convincing spatial sound is an important component of immersive VR applications as the presence and position of voices, music and ambient effects is so important in many real-world situations.
Optimised audio streams
In a blog post about the new SDK, Google explained how the technology has been developed. The company faced several challenges while creating it, including the issue of bringing high-quality spatial audio to mobile devices. Smartphones are rapidly emerging as the most important provider of consumer VR experiences but they have significantly fewer resources than their desktop counterparts.
Google's using optimised digital signal processing algorithms to create its spatial audio streams. These are able to simultaneously spatialize hundreds of 3D sound sources without placing inordinate demands on the processor. Resonance Audio scenes can have dozens of distinct sounds playing at the same time, irrespective of device family or platform.
The SDK also comes with several advanced features. It fully considers details of how sound travels, such as the direction in which waves propagate. Sound sources in Resonance should appear realistic regardless of where you're standing relative to their position. If you're standing behind a person playing a guitar, it'll be quieter than if you stand in front of them. Developers have control over these complex properties so they can craft the effect they need for their app.
Convincing immersion
Advanced spatial audio will make future virtual reality applications more convincing and engaging. This could help to increase adoption by letting users become immersed in a realistic experience. Matching the fundamental behaviour of soundwaves in the real world will make VR environments more familiar and could help people get comfortable with their surroundings.
Google Resonance Audio
Google Resonance Audio
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"As humans, we rely on sound to guide us through our environment, help us communicate with others and connect us with what's happening around us," said Google. "Whether walking along a busy city street or attending a packed music concert, we're able to hear hundreds of sounds coming from different directions. So when it comes to AR, VR, games and 360 video, you need rich sound to create an engaging immersive experience that makes you feel like you're really there."
To encourage Resonance Audio adoption, Google's developed support for most popular game engines, audio engines and audio editing software packages. At launch, the Resonance engine runs on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS and Linux and features integrations for Unity, Unreal Engine, FMOD, Wwise and several audio DAWs. There's also APIs available for Android, iOS, Java and web development.
More about Google, resonance audio, spatial sound, Virtual reality, Vr
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