4 immersive audio predictions for 2016
2016 will be a breakout year for immersive content.
As more and more people, platforms, and creators continue to push this wave of new content (virtual reality, 360° video, augmented reality, etc.) farther into the mainstream, we’re expecting some big things for 2016 in the way of immersive audio.
VR is at the top of everyone’s list of predictions. As a leader in ‘VR audio’ and immersive headphone audio, we’d like to add our thoughts for the coming year. With any luck we’ll see at least a few of the following:
1) The building of powerful yet easy-to-use audio tools for VR content creators
Audio is a critical element for VR and 360° video content, and yet it’s usually an afterthought. Most people just don’t have the skill set or time to focus on it. We’re working to bake our spatialized headphone audio and motion-tracking technology into simple, yet extremely powerful post-processing tools so that creators can easily make their content more compelling and interactive.
2) A bigger focus on immersive audio capture for concerts and other live environments
Live-captured content for 360° and VR playback is a big market, and one that will see continued growth in 2016 (take the New York Times distributing 1.3 million Google Cardboard headsets as a clue, or Youtube and Facebook who both launched 360° video players and support late last year). And yet today’s most immersive experiences are still hindered by the lack of lifelike audio to accompany the video.
Our patented 8-channel RondoMic is the only device on the market that captures ‘true audio’ in full 360 degrees, for pristine reproduction over headphones. You’ll hear sounds change relative to your head movement — from left to right, up to down, and near to far — exactly as you’d hear them if you were there live. This interactive audio element becomes a game changer for live-captured immersive content, adding a critical layer of contextual awareness and realism. We think audio is the biggest missing link in immersive content, and we aim to change that in 2016.
3) Motion-tracking and 3D audio integrated directly into headphones
There’s a huge market here for gaming and music. Imagine playing a new first-person-shooter and hearing an enemy helicopter behind you, overhead in the distance. You toggle up and move your head to the right to find the sound becoming more and more centralized (just as it would in real life), allowing you to quickly pinpoint the helicopter’s location. You take cover as bullets whiz by your left and right in amazing surround-sound detail.
Even the most subtle of positional audio cues (gained from the incorporation of motion) allow headphone listeners to realistically interact with sound sources all around them. This extends the 3D audio illusion and truly immerses listeners in their content, whether it be their favorite Spotify playlist, game, or movie.
Hint: We may have some big partnerships already underway in the area of direct headphone integration.
4) Adoption of spatialized headphone audio by major streaming music services
Consumers are listening to music on their mobile devices more than ever, with the major streaming music services representing the lion’s share of that consumption. The major players (Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Tidal, Soundcloud, etc.) are looking for differentiation. Take Apple Music, who may be rolling out a “high-res” audio feature this year. Whether these services are boasting 44.1kHZ/16-bit or even 96kHZ/24-bit high-res playback, it’s our opinion that the average listener won’t likely notice much of a difference or see this as a huge selling point.
High-res or low-res, traditional two-channel headphone audio is always flat, leaving you with an in-the-head listening experience. We think the future lies in the incorporation of spatialized 3D headphone sound. Our proprietary audio technology opens up the sound in your headphones by recreating the experience of listening to premium speakers in the sweet spot of a real room. Regardless of what you’re listening to or what kind of headphones you’re using, our solution yields a much richer, more natural, and more immersive listening experience.
Don’t believe us? Take the test for yourself. Try RAPPR, our 3D audio app, for free.
We genuinely believe that our technology marks the the biggest advancement in headphone listening since noise cancellation, so we’re very excited to be working towards integration with some major streaming services this year.
2015 was a great year for us: We worked with Björk. We rolled out some amazing consumer products. We worked with Hollywood studios to bring immersive audio versions of “Game of Thrones” and other mainstream entertainment to your next flight. We won rave reviews from Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Engadget and VentureBeat — Gizmodo even called us “the future of sound technology.”
We’re looking forward to an even better 2016, and with any luck we’ll be taking a big part in all of these predictions above. Stay tuned. We’ve got a lot of exciting stuff to share.
Have any questions? Did we miss any trends? Interested in partnering to drive these trends forward? Please let us know.