Innovative home audio concept brings 3-D sound into the living room

A new approach has made it possible to bring 3-D sound into the living room by using all available devices in a typical living room.

The work by computer vision and sound experts at the University of Surrey is called Media Device Orchestration (MDO) concept has been developed in collaboration with scientists from Universities of Salford and Southampton, and BBC Research & Development.

Scientists used the MDO concept to demonstrate how it is possible to achieve a 3D or ‘spatial audio’ experience by employing everyday home devices in the living room such as a laptop, smartphone or wireless mini-speaker. The technology works by isolating different ‘objects’ within audio content (such as a particular voice), and connecting them to separate speakers available around the room. The concept could enable consumers to enjoy films, games, programmes and music in a far more immersive, multi-layered and exciting way.

A complex setup that uses multitude of speakers located at exact points in relation to the listener is required to provide users with a 3D audio using currently available technology. However, advances in ‘object-based’ has enabled researchers to access each separate part of an audio scene, intelligently routing them to improve the listener experience.

Researchers at University of Surrey combined expertise in both computer vision and machine listening and sound perception to come up with the latest approach to creating 3D audio in living rooms.

Dr Philip Jackson, Senior Lecturer in Machine Audition at Surrey, said: “Most consumer audio transmitted into our homes is in the form of two-channel stereo which uses basic principles that have been around for over 130 years.

“To date, sophisticated multi-channel audio techniques have not helped to improve the listening experience for the general public. Our aim is to take spatial audio out of the lab and into people’s homes, and give users the impression of being at the heart of the action while in their living room.”

Dr Jon Francombe, Research Fellow in spatial audio in Surrey’s Institute of Sound Recording, commented: “New spatial audio methods have often required consumers to buy and install specific systems. We’re trying to make immersive listening experiences available to anyone by intelligently re-purposing content for whatever devices they already have available.

“The feedback we’ve had on our demonstrations to date has been great: MDO produces a listening experience that’s different to normal surround sound but can be equally (if not even more) immersive.”


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