With Virtual Reality (VR) bringing back huge attention to 3D audio design, the following transformation to Augmented Reality will be even more important for utilization of audio. Users need to be able to experience seamless interaction between the real and digital worlds, and this challenge must be solved in different areas within this field. Which areas are we talking about, and what should you stay updated on regarding Audio Augmented Reality (AAR)?
1. AAR Hardware
The first area to keep an ear on is the development of Audio Augmented Reality hardware. Just like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are front runners of VR, there needs to be hardware and evolution of current hardware to succeed with AR.
One current interesting product is the Jabra Intelligent Headset. The headset currently allows for audio augmented reality, mixing the real world with a digital audio layer. Sounds can be placed digitally on locations in the real world, and users can hear the sounds in a 3D audio environment mimicking the surroundings soundscape. In this article we will not go into details with this device, but we expect a lot from Jabra and their continuous development of this headset concept.
Another AR device is the Microsoft HoloLens. Though it is currently mostly suited for the visual side of augmented reality, it is definitely a project that will draw a lot of attention towards AR. Just watch the latest Microsoft commercial for future NFL fans.
2. VR & AR Software Technology
A great piece of news for AR is that the software technologies developed for VR, will be applicable to create AR as well. The currently expanding company, TwoBigEars, is developing audio spatialization software for VR, which will be useful to AR designers as well.
Having support in game engines like Unity 3D with software from TwoBigEars or other companies like Visiosonics, will make developing AR experiences so much easier. Especially with the VR era preparing a lot of the technology that is needed for AR.
3. AR Projects
Conceptual and pioneering projects will be an essential part of the inception for AAR. These projects path the way for what will be expected by the field, and what’s possible to achieve with augmented reality.
Microsoft has recently joined forces with Jabra and Guide Dogs in the Cities Unlocked project. Utilizing Audio Augmented Reality to aid the visually impaired by navigating them in the real world is a great example of a very practical usage. Further development could potentially take away the stress of using vision solely to navigate, by instead getting navigational input from audio instead of a visual map.
4. 3D Audio Hardware
Despite the fact that most current 3D audio headset require the users to be in front of a computer, it is interesting to follow the development of the headset hardware. For example, Kickstarter success, 3D Sound Labs, have released their 3D audio headset called, 3D Sound One. This headset hooks up to your PC or iOS device and delivers a spatial simulation of sound. This means that tracking of head movements will be reflected in the sound’s characteristics.
Similar to this headset, San Diego based OSSIC is developing the Sonic VR. Featuring head tracking and full-spherical placement of sound while using your PC, tablet or phone as platform, this device resembles the Jabra Intelligent Headset, but we will have to wait and see when the Sonic VR launches.
5. VR News
Finally, to stay updated on the development of AR, we cannot avoid being heavily influenced by the developments in VR. Our main picks for staying up to date on VR matters are Road To VR and Upload VR. Besides these of course everyone should pay attention to the sub-Reddits /augmentedreality and /virtualreality.
Augmented Reality is still the next-thing to come after virtual reality, and the AR scene has only just started getting established in the last few years. To be ready to design Audio Augmented Reality experiences, games, tools etc., it is important to stay up-to-date. For the AAR section, now is a great time to get involved in the pioneering work. We are always interested in knowing which AR areas you stay updated on, so head over to our community and give us your thoughts.