Spatial Sound for Computer Games and Virtual Reality

Spatial Sound for Computer Games and Virtual Reality

David Murphy (University College Cork, Ireland) and Flaithrí Neff (Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-828-5.ch014
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Abstract

In this chapter, we discuss spatial sound within the context of Virtual Reality and other synthetic environments such as computer games. We review current audio technologies, sound constraints within immersive multi-modal spaces, and future trends. The review process takes into consideration the wide-varying levels of audio sophistication in the gaming and VR industries, ranging from standard stereo output to Head Related Transfer Function implementation. The level of sophistication is determined mostly by hardware/system constraints (such as mobile devices or network limitations), however audio practitioners are developing novel and diverse methods to overcome many of these challenges. No matter what approach is employed, the primary objectives are very similar—the enhancement of the virtual scene and the enrichment of the user experience. We discuss how successful various audio technologies are in achieving these objectives, how they fall short, and how they are aligned to overcome these shortfalls in future implementations.
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Perceptual Processing Of Sound

The cognitive mechanisms involved in the aural perception of space are highly evolved and complex, and can be categorized into two distinct groups–direct analyses of physical/sensory information, and higher cognitive influences (see Figure 1). Both groups play a crucial role in our everyday hearing processes. Even in cases of perceived silence, background noise stimulates auditory spatial awareness by communicating spatial information about the surrounding environment to the listener based on both acute sensory detection and environmental experience (Ashmed & Wall, 1999).

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