3D audio to serenade gamers

Personal Audio has designed a software to replicate surround sound audio in video games through standard headphones

Newly established independent software vendor (ISV), Personal Audio, is targeting hardcore gamers with its surround sound audio software.

Personal Audio is a spin-off company from Sydney University, led by Simon Carlile, an academic researcher of auditory neuroscience.

Carlile and his group of researchers developed the audio software, MyEars, which is nearing the final stages of a beta trial.

“Audio is the only immersive input we have,” Carlile said. “When we look at something, we see what is in our visual field. We build up a view of what’s going on around us because we sample our visual field and our brain builds up a big picture.

“But if you put somebody in surround sound, you are immersed in that because your ears hear behind you – your eyes don’t”

And immersion is something gamers value when playing in a virtual world.

Surround sound, be it 5.1 or 7.1, require specific positioning of speakers to get the optimum positional audio effect so users can pinpoint the direction sound comes from; a valuable asset when it comes to first-person shooters games.

“The missing piece is, you put your headset on and you lose the 7.1 surround sound. That is what MyEars is about; re-establishing that virtual surround sound that is as good as you get with free-field speakers,” Carlile said, who wants to give gamers a "3D audio experience".

Proliferation of voice chats in video games has increased the popularity for headsets in gaming. Special headphones such as those made by Dolby and THX, have surround sound capabilities but Carlile dismissed them as generic solutions.

No two ears are the same and the brain calibrates sound filters differently so generic surround sound headsets may not work for everybody, he claimed. That is what Perfect Audio is taking advantage of with MyEars.

The software works by tailoring audio in PC games to an individual. It integrates with FMOD, an audio engine developed by Melbourne company, Firelight Technologies, which is used widely in video games.

Users of MyEars perform an online test so a Web-based prediction engine can gauge how they filter sound. The process takes around 15 minutes and no special headset is required.

The software currently works exclusively with FMOD-based games on PC but Personal Audio is working on bringing it out to the Xbox 360, PS3 and Apple iPhone.

Personal Audio's ultimate goal is to integrate the technology into others sectors beyond gaming.

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Tags gamingapple iphoneXBox 360PS3UbisoftActivision BlizzardMyEarsindependent software vendorFirelight TechnologiesPerfectAudio

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