21 Aug 2017 |
Research article |
Entrepreneurship & Management
Goodbye Dolby™…hello Audible Reality™: The Next Revolution in Sound
We all take for granted the way we hear sound in reality. However, the moment we put headphones on, we realize the difference. In spite of all the breakthroughs made in virtual reality and immersive media, the audio industry seems to be lagging. Audible Reality™, a company incubated at the Centech of the École de technology supérieure in Montréal (ÉTS), wants to remedy that by offering a high quality and personalized immersive 3D audio experience every time you use your device. Their goal is to empower app and streaming media developers to create enhanced listening experiences for their platforms. Do you remember the days when you used to hit the Dolby™ noise reduction button on our cassette decks to get a better experience? Well goodbye Dolby…hello Audible Reality™. Now, a simple push of a button from Audible Reality™ creates an explosion of excitement to your ears with the feeling of being fully immersed in the sound—a truly jaw-dropping experience.
Demonstration of the Audible Reality™ technology
Audible Reality™ was born late in 2015. Matthew Boerum, an experienced professional sound engineer and musician, was working in virtual reality at a gaming company when he realized that there were no easy solutions or dependable tools to expand sound in 3D. The technology behind Audible Reality™ was developed when Matthew started to create his own tools to try to make sound as he wanted to hear it—in reality. With his associate Bryan Martin, a Grammy award winning sound engineer with extensive experience in the field, he attended many audio conferences to validate the product. They showed it to their professional and personal networks and were encouraged by the positive feedback. A third associate specialized in intellectual property, Julien Lacheré, completed the team soon after.
The Technology Behind Audible Reality™: 3D Audio Imaging
In real life, you can be sitting in a room where the TV and radio are on and still pick up part of a conversation between other people. In fact, we are able to focus our attention momentarily on just one particular sound in space even though our world may consist of hundreds of individual sound sources at any given time. This phenomenon is due to spatial audio perception, a natural process in which each individual sound source can be decoded by our brain as a separate auditory stream of information. By allowing you to have more auditory streams, Audible Reality™ is enabling you to separate sounds in 3D space and tune out unwanted sounds by tricking your brain into thinking that what you are hearing is reality.
Unlike conventional systems, which try to imitate reality by distributing mono sound signals between several speakers, Audible Reality™ presents the sound, itself, as a perceptual 3D experience—a process they call 3D audio imaging. This patent-pending technology takes any sound and replicates the way it would feel naturally in space, creating a highly enjoyable and comfortable listening experience. Their product, SoundAlive™, is a compact and efficient software package that can be added to any mobile device or application with no additional hardware. The only piece of equipment needed are regular headphones. While SoundAlive™ offers the user an immersive experience when listening to music, it can also be used in other applications, such as the immersive ad placement, virtual conference room, and 3D phone call & navigation.
Immersive Music & Ad Placement
Audible Reality™ is working on a new kind of music streaming experience with partners in the advertising and music streaming fields. Their concept is to create enhanced 3D content and to place immersive ads within the music stream, creating a spatial listening experience that allows the listener to focus easily on the ad while still enjoying the music, and all without stopping the music for annoying ad breaks. It’s an experience that is like being at a party while listening to music and talking with your friends. By being less disruptive, these immersive ads are more tolerated than regular ones, which improves user retention, thus increasing advertising revenue and artist royalties.
Virtual Conference Room
One of the areas where user experience can be improved is conference calls. When several people are talking at the same with conventional systems, i.e. in a single audio stream, it is very difficult to follow a specific conversation without being disturbed by others. Audible Reality™ makes each person’s voice sound from a different spatial direction by mapping it to their relative position on screen, or in the conference room. Users feel as if they are in a real conference room, and are able to separate the sound to listen to one particular person. This new experience provides 40 to 50% improvement in speech intelligibility, meaning less confusion and increased productivity.
3D Phone Call & Navigation
Have you ever experienced problems finding someone in a crowded place? SoundAlive™ can enhance the quality and intelligibility of your phone call and also be customized to help you to locate a caller using 3D sound enabled GPS: just follow the sound of his or her voice to guide you.
Matthew Boerum is the co-founder and CEO of Audible Reality™. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Sound Recording at McGill University focusing on auditory perception for virtual and augmented reality.
Bryan Martin is the co-founder of Audible Reality™. Bryan is a pioneer in 3D recording with a career in music production. He is a Grammy and Juno awards winner. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Sound Recording at McGill University.