I started to work on my final thesis for my master’s degree. The thesis is about “Binaural Synthesis in Interactive Media”. I discovered that the title is not self explanatory, so here come some explanatory words :
Binaural hearing is the ability of humans and animals to use both ears in order to determine from which direction a sound they are hearing originated from. Without binaural hearing your expensive Dolby 5.1 sound system would be useless to you because you couldn’t tell the difference between 5.1 sound and mono sound. Also, binaural hearing makes the cocktail party effect possible.
Binaural synthesis is the process of synthetically generating a two channel singnal (i.e. a stereo signal, one channel per ear) out of a mono signal which can be perceived by a human in a spatial manner — creating a “binaurally hearable” signal as one might say. So, you do not need 5 channels to make 3D-sound possible. Everyone has just two ears, ergo: two channels should suffice — when using headphones, of course.
The choice of this topic for my master thesis originated from an earlier interest for sound based games. I was fascinated by the idea of creating a game whith no graphics at all. But in my opinion today’s sound technology is still missing some capabilities which are necessary for a proper sound-only-experience. Well, let’s see what we can do about it . Of course there already have been many scientific investigations and approaches to this problem. I’m by far not the first one to work on this topic.
By the way: recently I found this via RockPaperShotgun. There are two developers who are working on a sound based adventure game called Blindside. It’s comforting to know that the subject is still up to date and that you’re not the only one who’s working on it.