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KDDI Labs demos 3D Virtual Sound Technology
KDDI Labs has developed 3D audio technology that lets you change your listening position in a 3D space. Multiple microphones are used to record the audio and a unique method of audio signal processing, called virtual sound source reproduction, is used to map out the sound in a virtual 3D space in real time. This can generate an unlimited number of listening positions, even in locations where there are no microphones. This technology also lets you change where sounds come from or remove them from the 3D space altogether.
“It’s an audio version of our free-viewpoint video technology, which KDDI Laboratories has been developing. To synthesize 3D audio, you need a huge database. But with a huge database, it’s hard to put this system on a cellphone or smartphone. What we’ve done is to make the database smaller, while maintaining the audio quality. That’s what’s new about this development.”
In the past, to map out the sound in a 3D space required a huge amount of data, this is because it needs to accurately reproduce characteristics such as the dimensions of the room or how the sound enters the listeners ear. Because of this it’s been impossible to do this on a mobile device such as a smartphone. But KDDI has reduced the number of transmission characteristics required to accurately recreate this virtual sound field, and the whole database is now only a few hundred kilobytes in size. This makes the technology usable even on a smartphone.
“For example, suppose you’re watching a band on screen, and you want to get close to the guitar. As you get nearer to the guitar, the sound of the guitar gets much louder. The effect we’ve achieved now is that, if you move, for example, left from that position past the vocalist, the sound moves left. Another thing you can do with this technology is to change the position of instruments. So you can make the vocalist sound further away, and the guitar closer. Specifically, in music promotion videos, we’d like to enable users to get close to their favorite instrument, or eliminate just the vocals, and to do these things on a smartphone or cellphone.”
From now on, KDDI will develop an application that can run on a Web browser. They will also team up with content providers, with the aim of commercializing this technology soon.
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