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The 3D Spatial Audio Format of Apple is Being Developed for AR Devices

Apple is creating a unique audio format that will help place sounds around a user with Apple Glass, irrespective of whether they are in motion or not. The firm’s idea is to develop high-quality audio and to incorporate the usual audio format like AAC or MP3.

This new format will also implement extra spatial information for AR requirements. The globally renowned tech giant’s previous collaboration with Pixar for using a format named USDZ to place audio on a 3D space has highly influenced this new audio format. The format will not only determine the actual audio but will do more than just playing audio on the right or left side of the stereo picture.

The highly-popular American MNC is working on the patent which is titled, ‘File format for spatial audio’. Apple has mentioned that creating three-dimensional sound effects in virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), and augmented reality (AR) applications is quite challenging. This is because the present audio formats were developed for producing three-dimensional sound in a physical environment with stationary listeners and fixed speaker locations, like in a movie theater.

Apple also talked about working on different 3D audio formats that are classified under Simulated Reality (SR). The tech giant then mentioned the spatial audio formats that are crafted to create 3D sounds. This includes HOA (Higher-order Ambisonics) spatial audio techniques, DOLBY ATMOS surround sound technology, and Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG-H) 3D Audio standards.

Apple has also proposed to develop a format that is the same as .mp4 and .m4v. To fulfill its audio spatial needs, Apple wishes to create a new audio asset library. It will include asset metadata that will allow SR application developers to produce sounds suitable for SR applications.

The patent mentions Stephen E. Pinto and Christopher T. Eubank. It credits the former for spatial audio navigation for “Apple Glass”, and the latter for working on supreme-quality images for AR devices. The patent has also published several images and presented certain details based on those figures, specifically the spatial audio bed. It explains a spatial bed as a multi-channel audio content and that it portrays a full sound field description. The patent also says that a new spatial bed is created by combining segments of at least two such spatial beds.

It further illustrates that the spatial audio object may contain a spherical array of digital sound sources that define a listening position of the audio object, like the middle of custom mix sphere, surrounded by a sound field. USPTO has granted this patent and it also mentions 3D sound positioning through Head related transfer function or simply known as HRTF. This will help in magnifying a sound from a distance to straight into the ear. It further talks about an elongated procedure which might take some time. Currently, it is a developmental approach as a published medium. However, for the development to take place, one needs to wait for some time.


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