Smart home technologies, connected everything, smart cars and drones weren’t the only trends that swept the show floor at CES. The latest developments in audio were also a trend that made a statement at this year’s show. Consumers are seeking more from their audio experience at home and on mobile devices. We spoke with Fraunhofer’s audio experts Robert Bleidt and Julien Robilliard to find out what makes Fraunhofer’s audio technologies an industry game changer, why it matters to consumers, and what’s to come in the audio industry in 2016.
Before we dive in, there are a few things you should know about Fraunhofer. It is the organization behind the development of mp3 and the AAC family of codecs. The Audio & Multimedia Division is also credited with inventing new audio standards including MPEG-H Audio and developing software based technologies such as Cingo to deliver the highest quality audio experience available to consumers.
Here’s what the experts from Fraunhofer’s Audio & Multimedia Division had to share:
Q: Tell us more about the audio technologies you highlighted at CES
A: New standards for TV audio will soon provide consumers with an interactive and immersive audio experience at home and on their mobile devices. At CES, we presented MPEG-H Audio from the MPEG-H Audio Alliance of Fraunhofer IIS, Technicolor and Qualcomm. The audio system is designed to deliver immersive and interactive audio where consumers can personalize their audio experience. We demoed the technology in a living room environment on a prototype 3D soundbar and on an immersive 11.1 speaker setup.
We also showcased our Cingo technology on the Samsung Gear VR. Cingo has the ability to render fully immersive 3D Audio content delivered by MPEG-H Audio. It provides the possibility to place an arbitrary number of sound objects anywhere in a virtual space around the listener. As a result, the listener can perceive sound elements in the front, behind, from above or below and be truly immersed in a movie, game or any virtual environment with a stunning level of reality that creates an experience of “being there.”
Show attendees that visited Audi’s booth in the North Hall were able to experience our 3D audio technology Symphoria. Symphoria is unique technology that delivers a natural audio experience anywhere in the car.
Q: What changes in the audio experience for an everyday consumer?
A: With the ability to deliver improved audio to speakers, soundbars and mobile devices with our technologies, consumers will experience truly immersive and interactive audio.
Consumers will be able to adjust the sound mix to their preferences, for instance turning down the announcer during a sporting event, changing the language, or enhancing the audio of a NASCAR pit crew.
While the visual side of virtual reality is often the focus, audio makes at least 50% of the experience. If the audio is done wrong, the illusion breaks, but if done right, we have the full immersion. 3D audio reproduction over headphones is a requirement for virtual reality, and the combination of MPEG-H and Cingo not only tackles these challenges but also exceeds in performance by enabling new forms of storytelling, while guiding the listeners through a broad variety of virtual environments.
Q: What’s next on the audio front in 2016?
A: Stay tuned. As improvements in video quality rollout in 2016 with the introduction of 4k, consumers will demand universal delivery of better audio quality at home, mobile and the car, and Fraunhofer is here to bring consumers those new features.
Where can we sign up?
At Fraunhofer’s booth, we experienced the new interactive and immersive features in a living room environment where their experts played music and videos through a prototype 3D soundbar and on the Samsung Gear VR.
After our hands-on demonstration with Fraunhofer, we can’t wait for these improvements in audio in our homes and devices in 2016.