BBC develops 3D audio technology for the home

spatial audio diagram representation

Surround sound without the wires and speakers seem too good to be true? Researchers at the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) don’t think so.

Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro 3D may have firmly established themselves at technologies at the forefront of the ‘immersive’ audio movement, but researchers from BBC R&D and the Universities of Surrey, Salford, Southampton claim they may have an alternative (all collectively ‘S3A’).

The £5.4million-funded technology in question is referred to as a surround sound system but removes “the hassle of cables and expensive loudspeakers” according to Kristian Hentschel and Jon Francombe from BBC R&D. They confidently add that they have created “an exciting spatial audio experience that will revolutionise home entertainment.”

So, just how do they remove the need for receivers, decoders and other technology being installed in the living room?

Well, for one, it uses devices many already have around their home – such as smartphones, tablets or laptops.

The object-based media technology is designed to reproduce audio regardless of what devices people connect and where they are positioned and works to separate sounds through its “intelligent” system, and accordingly orders sounds a particular way (based on connected devices in the room).

The UK-based team is made up of sound designers, research scientists and developers, and has collaborated with production company Naked Productions to record and mix content using a bespoke format that is flexible enough to adapt to whatever devices are connected in the home. They add that the more devices that are connected in your home, the better the listening experience.

S3A’s first official test has been with a 13-minute sci-fi drama, The Vostok-K Incident, and can be accessed at BBC Taster after following step-by-step guides to connecting devices.