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November 6, 2017

Google is changing the way developers think about spatial audio

by John_A

Google wants to improve audio everywhere, no matter what device you’re using.

A good audio experience can do some truly incredible things to your perception. Immersive sound can make flat things feel more alive, change the tone of something from exciting to terrifying, and really make you feel like you are a part of the experience. This applies doubly so for VR and AR things. A good spatial audio experience can pull you in and fully immerse you in ways you didn’t expect, it’s a very cool thing to experience firsthand.

Not every VR experience has good spatial audio experiences, and fewer WebVR or AR experiences offer anything even close. Google is planning to address this issue everywhere, on as many platforms as possible, with a new SDK called Resonance Audio.

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Google’s goal is to make spatial audio better everywhere, beyond what we currently know as basic 3D sound. This is the stuff that makes it so when you’re watching a 360-degree video, the sound feels like it is actually coming from the direction those sounds should be coming from. If you turn away from those sources, the sounds would become quieter just like they would in the real world. It’s complicated stuff that usually takes developers a lot of hard work to nail correctly, but Google claims this new SDK would make it not only much easier but noticeably higher quality.

Best of all, Resonance Audio is not Android-only. While this tech is based on the VR Audio SDK Google originally built for Daydream, Resonance Audio will work across multiple platforms. This means there’s potential here for WebVR, Mobile VR, and AR experiences to improve across the board with better spatial audio.

Developers can now check out more details on Resonance Audio. The rest of us? Wait and see how well developers are able to turn this into something great for everyone!

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