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Think about the importance of sound in your daily life. Maybe, you’re an avid music lover or a musician yourself. But, when you really think about it– what’s an immersive experience without the auditory component?

Movie ticket prices keep rising; yet, people continue to buy them. One of the reasons may be because movie-goers truly get to experience the movie due to the high-quality surround sound. We can also explore the rise of voice assistance in GPS and Amazon’s Audible. Needless to say, audio technology is evolving to be of major significance in our future world experiences. 

When we look at augmented reality we automatically associate it with the visual overlays and incredible 3D augmentation– but auditory AR is just as significant. Major technology companies such as Google and Bose have begun experimenting in this space.

According to The Verge, “Bose built a few simple apps for SXSW, which work pretty well, if not perfectly. The most impressive demonstration was an augmented reality tour of the bars and restaurants along Austin street. It worked like visual augmented reality, but with sound instead of a heads-up display: you look at a building and tap a touchpad on your temple, and they offer a sentence or two about what’s inside.

Fascinating research is also taking place at Facebook Reality Labs. Facebook has recruited a team of ‘audio professionals’ to connect individuals on a far greater scale. They are developing ideas like audio presence and enhanced hearing. The technology they are prototyping can understand what you actually want to listen to and enhance those signals. So, for instance, if you are at an extremely noisy bar with your AR glasses, the technology enables you to hear the person sitting across from you more clearly. Likewise, if the person using the technology decides to look at the TV, the football game would get louder again.

Other spectacular use cases include remote assistance and audio AR for the blind or low vision population. GPS is useful but can only guide people to the approximate location of their target, while AR applications have greater spatial accuracy. If someone who is visually impaired is looking at a desk, the AR technology could potentially help them label all the items from left to right. Integrating an advanced audio interface into AR applications can help the blind population navigate the world in a much easier way. 

Audio AR has the potential to break down barriers in our world and is just as important as visual information. By combining the superpowers of audio and visual technology– augmented reality will be even more powerful than we ever imagined.  

What do you think?