Immersive Sound

“I would like to congratulate you on the apparent naturalness, at least from a first hearing on modest loudspeakers. The source movement was easily detectable and fairly easy to locate.”

Francis Rumsey, Chair, Technical Council at Audio Engineering Society

 

 

“It was great to see how the project has evolved and I'm really impressed by the result. By way of comparison we checked out an ambisonic system later in the day. Having had your demo in the morning the lack of location precision in the ambisonic  system was very apparent.”

James Hall, Jawbone Inc.

 

Technology

The King’s immersive sound technologies are developed around two main inventions:

 

  1. Multichannel surround sound technology which makes a considerable improvement over state of the art  (e.g. ambisonics) in terms of the size and stability of the sweet spot, and robustness to loudspeaker positions, so it can be used for larger scale sound installations and performances, including AR/VR without the need for headphones.

 

  1. Room simulation technology which renders perceptually faithful room acoustics in a computationally extremely efficient manner,  allowing real time rendition of dynamic acoustic scenes using  very modest equipment (even mobile phones), which makes it ideally suitable for interactive AR/VR experiences.

 

The technologies can be combined for instance for rendering interactive AR/VR immersive sound content over loudspeakers, but can be used independently of each other, i.e. the room simulator can be used with headphones (binaural rendering), and the multichannel system can be used for just sound and music production with no reference to a visual content.

 

 

Benefits

  • Spatial accuracy of ambisonics while overcoming its stability limitations using a conceptually simple framework
  • Scalable and reconfigurable to any number of channels and a diverse set of channel lay-outs
  • High timbral quality of sound
  • Very low computational complexity to allow super real-time synthesis of dynamic scenes in virtual and augmented reality applications

 

Applications

  • Broadcasting
  • Sound production
  • Gaming
  • Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality
  • Architectural Design
  • Acoustic Performances
  • Sound Installations

 

Patent portfolio Status

  • Audio Signal Processing Method and System - US granted (US 8,184,814); EU pending
  • Microphone Array - US granted (US 8,976,977)
  • Electronic Device with Digital Reverberator & Method - US granted (US 8,908,875)

 

 

Main publications

 

  • Real time simulation of dynamic acoustic environments

 

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7113826/

 

  • Multichannel immersive sound technology

 

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6508825/

 

  • Cost-effective higher order microphones

 

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/5872011/

 

  • A review of immersive sound methods that rely on perception

 

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7911385/

 

Testimonials

  1. Julius Smith, Professor, Stanford University, pioneer of physical sound modelling, who developed the audio rendering component of the NeXT computer under the direct supervision of Steve Jobs

 

”Congratulations - I believe you have significantly advanced ’best practices’ in artificial reverberation based on room-modelling. I think it should become the new standard. I plan to prepare a lecture module on it by next year.”

 

  1. Vesa Valimaki, Professor, Aalto University, IEEE Fellow, highlighted the technology as one of three hot new topics in room acoustics simulation in his keynote talk at the 60th International Conference of the AES.

 

  1. Member of Technical Staff at Activision Blizzard ”Yea, works and sounds pretty damn good.”

 

  1. Simon Wilkinson, VR artist, CiRCA69.

 

”In VR design we use the GPU to calculate in real time the reflections of light around a scene, including shadows created by both static and dynamic objects. This gives a sense of life to the behaviour of light and shadow in a scene and increases the sense of presence felt by the user. The built-in VR audio tools, however, do not provide a similar real-time rendering of the behaviour of sound. Instead the Unity system (e.g.) allows us to fake spacial reverbs with blanket effects defined by reverb zones. As a result audio reverbs in Unity are often dead feeling, one understands what they are trying to do, but the result is merely symbolic; they tell us something about the room we are walking through but there is a conscious process of interpretation involved on the part of the user where, in real life, acoustic responses are dynamic and allow for a less conscious reading of spacial qualities. As an experienced designer one wants to be in control of where and when users are utilising unconscious attention and when they transition to conscious attention within a scene. The current tool set are a barrier to this aim in that they force users into conscious attention to interpret what the audio is telling them about the space they are in. ZD technology provides an efficient solution to this problem, allowing for a more fluid audio experience for users in which conscious attention is reserved for elements specifically requiring critical analysis. A further differentiation of ZD technology is that, in addition to binaural rendering, it is compatible with speaker array systems thus allowing real time audio spatialization for installation purposes and other shared experiences. Why is that important? VR content creators regard binaural technologies (headphones) to be problematic, and even amateur artists and dabblers understand that binaural is an easy and cheap way to improve immersion. In order for audio to be truly immersive it needs to hit audiences kinaesthetically, vibrating their bodies as well as their ear drums, and that is another quality which ZD provides.The ease of implementation of the speaker set up is another advantage in comparison state of the art, e.g. ambisonic which is widely regarded as too much effort and cost for too little gain.”

 

  1. Ali Hossaini, CEO Cinema Arts Network

 

King’s audio technology  gives artists unprecedented control over environmental sound design. Artists can place audio channels anywhere within a room to create and recreate the shape of a musical or spoken ensemble. By shifting the apparent location of performers, artists can change the contours of an environment. A living room can feel like a stadium, and an auditorium can become an intimate cafe. Acoustics becomes a factor that can be managed through a simple graphic interface.

When brought to market, King’s system will fuel artistic creativity in a relatively unexplored dimension – full 3D space – and it will also enable naturalist techniques of sound mapping that bring recordings to life. I expect it will be adopted by individual artists, independent production companies and larger commercial enterprises that want to diversify their production base.

 

 

Patent Information:
Category(s):
Physical Sciences
For Information, Contact:
Mugdha Joshi
IP & Licensing Manager
King's College London
mugdha.joshi@kcl.ac.uk
Inventors:
Zoran Cvetkovic
Keywords: