Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) are working on a new technology that controls the location of sound with an array of loudspeakers and a software controller. This new system creates virtual “sound ball” that calculates the virtual location, direction and intensity of a sound to make it feel like it is really happening in the room. They announced this technology in a recent press release.
What are 3D Sound effects? – 3D sound is a term that describes the feeling that sound from a movie or other media is happening in a particular direction. Sounds may seem to happen behind, above or to one side of your location. This effect is achieved with surround-sound speakers, headphones or a speaker array.
How Do These Sound Balls Work? – KAIST Professors Yang-Hann Kim and Jung-Woo Choi are the primary developers of this new system. They use an array of 24 – 50 small loudspeakers controlled by a complex software app to create a 3D space. Within this space, the array can create virtual points of sound (which they have dubbed sound balls). Each of these points can then emit sounds that the listener hears as coming from a particular location. No matter where the listener moves in the 3D Space the location of the sound balls remains constant, so the virtual location of the sound is always in the same place. This system allows for commercial movie theater quality surround sound without the need for expensive speakers or hardware.
When Can I Buy this Technology? - Although the technology is still in the testing stage, Professor Jung-Woo Choi reports that it “is ready for an immediate translation into commercial products”. This means that we could see this technology on the market within the next 5 years. In the meantime, you can read more about this new discovery in this article from RedOrbit.