Microsoft details ventriloquist-like Spatial Audio for HoloLens, UWP, and Unity

Michael Cottuli

Whether you be talking about music, gaming, casual conversations with your friends, or business meetings, there is absolutely nothing more important than a good audio experience. Regardless of what sort of experience you’re designing, audio that doesn’t perfectly sync up to the rest of your interface has the potential to completely ruin it. In the hopes of revolutionizing our standards for audio design, Microsoft has made a blog post detailing something pretty exciting: Spatial Audio.

Originally designed for use with HoloLens, the technology is being introduced to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and the Unity engine. For those who don’t know, Spatial Audio is a technology that aims to accomplish digitally what ventriloquists have been doing for years, creating the illusion that audio is coming from somewhere other than its actual source. The theory behind the technology is pretty fascinating to say the least, and it could potentially mean big things for all art forms if developers end up embracing it.

Spatial Audio can be used on the Xbox or our desktop computers to improve an extremely common annoyance: muddy audio on audio chat. By separating out different speakers and giving them distinct physical locations with respect to the listener, we are surprisingly able to easily pick out the different voices even when they are speaking at the same time. This could potentially be revolutionary both for online gaming and business.

As far as HoloLens as concerned, this technology has a lot of potential really making augmented reality an easier sell for people. Seeing objects digitally created around you is one thing, but creating the illusion that those objects are actually making noise can contribute a ton to the experience. Anybody who’s ever played a good horror game will be able to tell you that convincing audio design is key – this could be the secret ingredient that truly ties together the augmented reality experience.

If you’re a developer who wants to start working with Spatial Audio, Microsoft talked a bit about how you can do that in the blog post. Feel free to check that out and go help to forge the future of audio design in apps. Chances are that, in 5 years, this is the sort of thing that’s going to be standard procedure when creating audio experiences.