Sound, why does it matter?

Whether you are driving your car or reading in the library, sound provides you with information about the world around you. Sounds provide a description of the space you are in, it’s size, and describes most of the other things that occur in that space – such as the state of the car that you are driving, or all the other things that happen in the library, while you are trying to concentrate on your book.

What makes sound crucial for the VR experience? Just like ordinary reality, VR is not an exclusively visual experience – it is multi-sensory including the auditory sense, the sense of touch, and in rare cases even the olfactory and gustatory senses (for smelling and tasting). Sound is a very important part of this multi-sensory unity. It tells us what happens outside the users’ field of view, and it tells us at what location those events are taking place in, and gives us detailed and nuanced information about the nature of those events. It adds additional sensory information that confirms the events, and the actions that you perform in the virtual world, making the virtual reality seems more plausible and realistic.

 

So how do we use sound at Virsabi? A lot of the time, we use sound to make sure that the most critical information of a VR experience is delivered to the user with clarity and impact. We often make content that is dialog driven, and here clear sound and accurate spatial positioning are key factors. We use ambisonic recordings that can capture soundscapes at locations and present them as 3D sound experiences that allow us to add a sonic texture of realism that is often more detailed than the footage from a 360-degree camera or a 3D rendering. It also gives an accurate reproduction of the acoustics at the location, which can really make a 360-degree video come alive. Usability and user experience is also greatly improved by auditory interaction cues.

 

A VR-world that is ripe with sounds and auditory detail is far more capable of inducing a sense of presence in the user than a silent one. In addition, it heightens the opportunities to deliver more vivid and memorable experiences to the audience. You could say that sound contribute to making the visual experience more real.

Sound has been a highly important part of our projects with our various partners. Among others, Höganäs AB, Jabra, IKEA and the B&O Play musical experience together with the Danish artist Oh Land.