Immersed in sound: Soundscapes audio event
Soundscapes, held in partnership with record label BPI in London, United Kingdom, aimed to showcase a combination of audio and virtual/augmented reality technology, highlighting the opportunities and use cases of spatial and immersive audio through keynotes and interactive demonstrations.
Soundscapes attracted leading names in the world of immersive and spatial audio, including keynotes from BoseAR demonstrating its BoseAR augmented reality glasses alongside demonstrations from 1.618 digital, immersive audio theatrical experience provider, Darkfield, and a talk on the history of spatial audio from Mirek Stiles, founder of Abbey Road Red Spatial Audio Forum, Abbey Road studios.
The event began with an opening keynote from Andreas Ehret, VP consumer entertainment and technology, Dolby, providing an introduction to spatial and immersive audio and the importance of sound, highlighting the evolution of the technology from single speaker cinema setups to immersive multi-speaker experiences through Dolby Atmos.
The event was full to capacity and attracted a range of visitors, from potential investors to playwrights exploring the potential of immersive audio, alongside several demonstrations from a variety of companies in the world of VR, AR and audio.
PlaylinesAR demonstrated Consequences, a choose your own adventure style immersive AR rap experience combining a smartphone app with BoseAR glasses and a real, physical set with actors to create an augmented reality theatrical experience.
The app follows the user, as ‘the player’, through a nightclub environment, using a combination of real-life visuals, music and audio to interact with both real actors and virtual characters to determine the outcome of the story.
Users would traverse the environment, triggering geo locators to access different parts of the story with options to choose between one or two destinations which in turn will affect the outcome of the plot and the characters the user interacts with.
Darkfield, a company that provides immersive audio theatrical experiences in shipping containers, demonstrated its immersive audio experience, using a blindfold and surround sound headphones to immerse users in a more traditional theatrical ‘on rails’ performance with a twist, eliminating the visual aspect entirely in favour of an exclusively sound and imagination experience to plunge audiences into an otherworldly experience that would be near impossible to capture on a physical stage.
Events exclusively for immersive audio are few and far between, and often overlooked in the virtual reality space despite being a core component of the human senses in our perception of the world.
Amelia Kallman, Inition, explained: I’ve experienced amazing 360 virtual reality experiences, but the audio is really letting me down. When you're trying to be immersed in an experience, you want to be totally immersed.
“When it comes to new realities, we have this advantage that we can have ambisonic sound experiences. Inition created a drink driving experience for the Road Safety Authority in Ireland, and at one point, if you make the wrong choice, you end up in a car accident, upside down, with ambulances on one side, there's a guy breaking a window coming in through another side, all the while the user is upside down.
Being able to create that audio experience was so important to make this a realistic experience, and when you start to take sound from 2D into 3D and 4D, it can make or break a whole experience.”
So what did Soundscapes reveal? There is an intelligent, growing immersive audio well waiting to be tapped into – sound can easily be taken for granted and should not be easily discounted in the push towards more immersive and engaging experiences; companies involved in VR and live events should certainly keep an ear to the ground on this one!