Omnitone demo screenshot

A screen shot of “Fuerza Imprevista,” one of Google’s two demo videos

Today, Google announced a new open source project for what it deems “a key element for an immersive virtual reality experience”: spatial audio. In other words, placing sound where it should be in three-dimensional space.

Called Omnitone, Google’s new platform allows you to actually hear things from where they come in virtual reality. Its technology rotates the entire sound field as you look around, which simulates how you actually hear the world around you.

So if someone is playing a violin behind you in virtual reality, you’ll hear the audio coming from that direction in your headphones. As you turn toward the source, the sound will change and grow louder as it would if you were really there. Google provided the following graphic showing how the technology works:


Google Omnitone graphic

Graphic showing how Google’s new open source, spatial audio software works.

Right now, Google has two demo videos that you definitely need to try out for yourself. Drag your way to follow a violinist’s journey or watch a myriad of performers celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Either way, follow your ears.