Google unveils Resonance Audio, new spatial audio software development kit

Google has released a new spatial audio software development kit (SDK) called Resonance Audio.

The technology, based on Google’s VR Audio SDK, is designed to help bring sound into the 3D space for 360-degree video, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Resonance Audio will also work across both mobile and desktop platforms, is compatible with game engines like Unreal Engine and Unity, and works with a suite of editing software.

With Resonance Audio, Google wants to replicate what it’s like to be immersed in a virtual world.

For example, Google wants users to hear the difference between a helicopter flying overhead, a car honking on the street beside you, the rumble of the subway beneath your feet or the sound of being locked in a room with a very loud boombox. While sounds can currently come from either a left or right audio source, 3D audio aims to reproduce sounds in three-dimensional space.

Resonance Audio accomplishes 3D sound by using a full-sphere surround sound technique called ‘Ambisonics’ to imitate sounds coming from hundreds of simultaneous sources. It does this without compromising its audio quality, no matter which platform, according to Google.

Ambisonics and head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) — the process used to map sounds moving toward your head — are combined together to trick the brain into believing sounds are coming from different distances and positions even when coming from a pair headphones.

Resonance Audio can also imitate how an object sounds when a person is facing it versus how it sounds when they turn their back to an object. Additionally, Resonance Audio can tell the difference between approaching a sound or walking away from a sound, or if something is coming between a person and a sound source.

While it works with all of the above-mentioned sounds, Resonance Audio is also capable of using the Unity engine to calculate reverberation effects, such as a boombox in a stairwell.

Although Resonance Audio is available for developers, it doesn’t mean all app creators will take advantage of it. Developers could continue use the existing options or even create their own.

Regardless, Google’s technology will be great for 360-degree YouTube videos and Daydream VR development.

Source: Google Developers Blog