VRACE - Virtual Reality Audio for Cyber Environments
„Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have the potential to become the next big computing platform, and as we saw with the PC and Smartphone, we expect new markets to be created and existing markets to be disrupted.“ (Understanding the Race for the Next Computing Platform, Goldman Sachs 2016). While its technology is still considered in the early stages of development, it is already mature in the video game area.
VR/AR has the potential to change the way we do business, social interactions or education, but its applicability beyond gaming requires further development. An important field of research is the audio part. The importance of sound becomes evident when considering how people orientate themselves in space. Unlike seeing, hearing allows us to perceive instantly from all angles, and plays a leading role in giving us clues where to look at. To support natural orientation in VR/AR, the visual and auditory information has to closely match, as otherwise the illusion is shattered and the experience is not convincing.
VRACE aims at providing physically correct and perceptually convincing soundscapes in VR. This goal is pursued through dedicated training of ESRs in all VR-related domains, namely physical modelling, sound propagation, audio rendering and psychoacoustics. Specific research projects involve modelling of sound sources, such as musical instruments, voices, vehicles, colliding objects or environmental sound sources, studying sound propagation in complex interior spaces like concert halls and in outdoor environments such as urban or rural areas and investigating human perception and localisation of sounds.
With an estimated revenue of $80bn by 2025 (G&S) the demand for trained VR audio experts will increase rapidly. Besides advancing methodologies in this cutting-edge technology, VRACE will train 15 ESRs who will multiply and spread this knowledge in industry and academia. VRACE thus gives European industry a competitive edge in this global race.