Augmented auditory reality: A smarter way to hear

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Augmented auditory reality: A smarter way to hear

Augmented auditory reality: A smarter way to hear

Subheading text
Earphones are having their best makeover yet—auditory artificial intelligence.
    • Author:
    • Author name
      Quantumrun Foresight
    • November 16, 2021

    Post text

    Earphones have come a long way from their bulky, wired origins, but tech firms are now trying to elevate them into their smartest, slickest version yet.

    Augmented auditory reality context

    When the portable cassette player was invented in 1979, earphones were then hailed as extremely socially disruptive, as people started to enjoy music privately and individually. During the 2010s, wireless earphones became widely available and the tech behind these earbuds has evolved rapidly, with manufacturers trying to outdo themselves.

    Annually upgraded models are becoming increasingly miniaturized and can deliver not just surround-system sounds but also an intuitive, guided, and enhanced hearing experience. Some manufacturers think even more is possible by integrating elements of artificial intelligence and augmented reality into these devices.

    Disruptive impact

    Augmented auditory reality (AR) seems to be the next step in sound technology. The US-based startup, PairPlay, has developed an application that allows two people to split a pair of earpods and immerse themselves into a guided auditory role-playing adventure, ranging from espionage to a zombie apocalypse.

    Other companies, such as Facebook Reality Labs, were looking into audio presence and enhanced hearing tech, where augmented reality glasses could adjust the sound volume depending on where the wearer is looking. Meanwhile, Microsoft Research is experimenting with sensors to determine the head position and adjust the environment's sounds accordingly. These innovations could lead to virtual assistants being able to provide directions or guidance in a more immersive way. However, some critics are wary that the increasingly sophisticated AR tech could lead to advertisements being blasted in our ears 24/7.

    Applications for augmented auditory reality

    Example applications for augmented auditory reality may include:

    • Audio-based guided tours, where wearers would be able to experience the sounds of a location such as church bells, and bar and restaurant noises.
    • Virtual reality gaming, where augmented auditory audio would enhance the digital environment.
    • Specialized virtual assistants that could better give directions or identify items for the visually impaired.

    Questions to comment on

    • How else do you think audio augmented reality could change day to day life?
    • What other headphone features could enhance your hearing or listening experience?

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    Insight references

    The following popular and institutional links were referenced for this insight:

    Brainwaive Auditory AR