#124: Rod Haxton on VisiSonics’ RealSpace 3D audio licensed to Oculus, personalized HRTFs, & their Audio Panoramic Camera

Rod Haxton is the lead software developer for VisiSonics, which created the RealSpace™ 3D Audio technology that Oculus has licensed to put 3D audio into VR.

My experience is that having 3D audio in a VR experience is a huge component for creating a sense of immersion, especially when you’re able to go beyond panning the audio between the left and right channels as you turn your head. With RealSpace™ 3D Audio, they’re able to go beyond panning to simulate the elevation and whether the sound is in front or behind you. They process audio in a way that’s analogous of doing ray-tracing for ears where they take true material audio reflections and do calculations that are based upon Sabine’s reverberation equation.

Our ears filter sound in a way that helps us be able to locate the sound in space. Everyone’s ears are different, and VisiSonics can create a specific profile for your ears in what’s called a HRTF, or head-related transfer function.

They have a database of HRTFs, and use a default profile that works pretty well for 85% of the population. Rob talks about how VisiSonics has a patented a fast-capture for a personalized HRTF where they put speakers in your ears and have an array of microphones in a room. He sees a vision of a time in the future where you’d go into a studio to capture the HRTF data for your ears so that you could have a more realistic 3D audio experience in VR.

Rob also talks about:

  • Special considerations for spatializing audio & a special tool that they’ve developed to evaluate how well a sound will be spatialized.
  • Oculus’ SDK integration of RealSpace™ 3D Audio technology
  • Unity integration & VisiSonics direct integration
  • Options available for 3D audio that are provided by their SDK
  • Maximum number of objects that you could spatialize & what’s a reasonable number
  • Future features planned for the RealSpace™ 3D Audio SDK
  • Unreal Engine support coming soon
  • Originally funded by the DoD to help develop a way for nearly-blinded soldiers to do wayfinding
  • How Tesla is using their panoramic audio cameras to improve the sound profiles of cars
  • How Rod helped get RealSpace 3D audio into a game engine & how they connected with Oculus at GDC 2014
  • How they’ve developed a panoramic audio camera to be able to visualize how sound propagates
  • Good examples of 3D audio integration can be found in Technolust & demos from Unello Design & Bully! Entertainment
  • How poorly-implemented HRTFs had given them a bad name over time

This week, VisiSonics announced Unity 5 integration is now available in their latest v0.9.10 release

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

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