Published: 10 October 2023

Ultimate in surround-sound technology

New models of auditory perception will be used by researchers in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences to help devise the ultimate surround-sound technology, creating shared immersive sound experiences that will work without headphones.

Around £860,000, from a large £3.15 million EPSRC grant led by King’s College London, will fund Associate Professor Enzo De Sena’s research, entitled ‘Challenges in Immersive Audio Technologies’ (CIAT)

Enzo said: ‘In short, we will develop new models of human perception and use them to optimise surround audio systems. This will be the only currently running project in the UK focussed specifically on immersive audio.”

Immersive technologies will transform not only how we communicate and experience entertainment, but also our experience of the physical world, from shops to museums, cars to classrooms. 

This transformation has been driven primarily by an unprecedented progress in visual technologies, which enable transporting users to an alternate visual reality.  

In the domain of audio, there are however long-standing fundamental challenges that need to be overcome to enable striking immersive experiences in which a group of listeners can just walk into a scene and feel transported to an alternate reality to enjoy a seamless shared experience without the need for headphones, head-tracking, personalisation, or calibration.

The challenges to overcome are:

  • Delivering immersive audio to multiple listeners using a small number of loudspeakers
  • Technology challenge of delivering 3D sound in a variety of spaces – museums, galleries etc. in a practical-scalable way
  • Using real-time rendering of room acoustics needed to transport listeners to an alternate reality.

Enzo added: “By addressing these challenges, CIAT will enable creation and delivery of shared interactive immersive audio experiences for emerging XR applications, whilst making a step advance in the quality of immersive audio in traditional media. 

In particular efficient real-time synthesis of high-quality environment acoustics is essential for both XR and object-based audio in general, including streaming and broadcasting. Delivery of 3D soundscapes to multiple listeners is a major unresolved problem in traditional applications too, including broadcasting, cinema, music events, and audio-visual installations.”

Share what you've read?