Stereophonic sound optimized based on ear shape of each user

Sony Corp has developed stereophonic sound technology that it calls 360 Reality Audio which is aimed at using a smartphone to realize realistic sounds such as sounds produced by live performance.

Specifically, the technology analyzes “audibility properties” based on the image of the user’s ear taken with a smartphone camera and realizes realistic sounds optimized for each user.

The location of the headphones’ sound source is very close to the ears, compared with actual sound sources (e.g. musical instruments). Therefore, how sounds are heard depends on ear shape.

To deliver the same sounds (that the creator of the music wants to let users hear) to all users, it was necessary to measure the shape of each user’s ear and correct differences.

The 360 Reality Audio is used in the following way. A special smartphone application is launched, and a picture of a profile is taken in accordance with instructions shown on the smartphone screen. To collect the shape data of the right and left ears, two pictures are taken.

The 360 Reality Audio uses Sony’s “own audio format” including not only sound sources but also the location information of sound sources. Therefore, it is possible to optimize the locations of sound sources based on collected data.

When I actually listened to music, I clearly recognized the difference among the directions of musical instruments, singing voices, etc.

In the case of headphones, if the played content supports the 360 Reality Audio, there is no need for special devices. However, it is necessary to apply signal processing to the played sound in accordance with the user’s ear shape.

In the case of speakers, a product that radiates sound to all directions is necessary. Even with audio devices manufactured by other companies, it is possible to use the 360 Reality Audio if they support a distribution format that Sony released to the public.

Sony is currently negotiating with companies that provide distribution services, it said. As for devices compatible with the technology, the company said, “We will start from the technological development of headphones and speakers.”

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