Google moves web-based VR forward with “Omnitone” surround sound


Newer VR platforms will often support spatial audio, which helps users to pinpoint the source of objects in virtual space. This is useful when you are playing a title with a lot going on, as this spacial audio technology can help you pinpoint key elements to move forward in a story or experience. Whether it be gunfire, someone’s voice, or something wholly separate, the technology is vitally important to producing the most immersive experiences possible.

Since the release of Cardboard, Google has aimed to make virtual reality experiences accessible to everyone. With the introduction of their new Daydream VR platform, the company is looking to take the virtual reality experience and make it a continuous experience, with all your favorite applications working in tandem with the VR platform. This of course includes Chrome. Google wants its browser to be able to run VR experiences just like any other application, and to do this, it needs spacial audio to work just as it does with anything else.

The company didn’t want to create a wholly separate application to get this working however, as integrating it directly into Chrome would allow for users to take advantage of the technology without needing to change a thing. This initially posed quite the task for the Silicon Valley based company, as virtual audio is not something you can easily modify with a few lines of code. Google has some smart people working for them however, and it seems they have found a solution.

Google’s Omitone sound technology creates 8 virtual speaker systems which it syncs with headsets to create a sphere of audio around the user. The headset provides x, y, and z axis positioning of the user, which is then passed to these virtual speakers to indicate positioning of whatever sound source the software is trying to emulate.

Google has released a demo of the technology which you can check out here, and will likely integrate the tech into apps like Youtube in the near future. The company has also made the project open source, meaning you have the opportunity to check out the code yourself on the company’s Github. If you want to modify it, we doubt the company would be opposed, so if you think you can make it better, go at it!

What do you think about the tech? It should certainly help a lot of experiences to feel a lot more immersive.

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