August 1, 2004


Analysts have an uncanny way of mapping the direction of technology. Sometimes spot-on but hardly ever off base. Thinkers, them analysts. They know trends and their direction.

Wether or not we get a particular service (like iTunes) is irrelevant. These analysts I suspect are mailmen, our butcher or dairy farmer in gumboots. Ground level people who see all sides and have a knack for spocking-up a logical prediction.

So now, I offer this headline:
MP3 creator returns with 3D sound

and the blurb:
"One of the inventors of the MP3 format is back with a new technology that he hopes will revolutionize audio, creating superrealistic sound for theaters, theme parks and eventually even living rooms."

If you've heard of "Virtual Audio", then ditch your impression.

The Fraunhofer Institute claim to have come up with a better way of producing surround sound, not only for home theatre but outdoor areas or dedicated areas such as theme parks or shopping centres. They've called it "Losono".

They tested their technology not with a 5 or 7 speaker setup, not even 10, but try 400 speakers. They've worked out a kick-ass algorithm for any particular space or reflection and can imitate it by drawing their desired idea onto a computer screen using a light pen during the stages of production.

Horses running through parliament? - Done. MP's running though horse stables? - Done.

Not only this, but moving soundscapes also. A scene moves from one space to another and it will create an audio transition for this. But wait, folks, thats not the kicker.

I will get to the kicker. OK, here's the kicker.

When it comes to hearing the sound, you may be listening in a theatre, a bus stop, bathroom or even broom closet. The algorithm accomodates YOUR environment to produce a sound that is true to where YOU hear it. In other words, I'll use the example of MP's running through an alleyway. The dimensions of the alleyway will become the dimensions of where you are listening, so the sound emitted is true to your environment.

How have they been able to take a piece of audio and get it to manipulate YOUR listening environment? It goes right back to the idea of capturing audio. Edison did it his own way, and Fraunhofer have come up with their own party trick. We've just undergone a revolution with digital imaging, and now audio capture is adopting a new parent.

[GEEK ALERT - LEVEL 10!] They've learnt a lot about frequency response, and how sound waves work. Recording the electrical impulses of a sound, rather than the sound itself allows you to modify the 'sound' however you please, and this allows them to customise the properties of a sound wave enabling us to have a personalised audio environment (or P.A.E!).

Quote: "The thing that's different about Iosono is that it just takes the approach of intelligent analysis of what sound really is and how it shows up to your ears and applies that in a different way."

They can make a car come flying out of your fridge - or anywhere really (except outer space I guess).

What would our analysts say to Losono?

Surely holograms aren't too far away then?

--"Back To The Future II" clearly shows we have these in 2015 along with hovering skateboards and jackets that dry themselves (although I did hear something about these jackets in the news over the weekend)--

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