Nokia has dipped its hands into a lot of cookie jars lately, including the hottest computing and gaming trend, virtual reality. But most, if not fall, VR systems today only deal with the visual part of that made-up reality. A fully immersive virtual experience would need to also have 3D audio to go along with the 3D visuals. And for that, you need to record, and play back, audio in 3D, which is why Nokia is announcing OZO Audio to complement its existing OZO camera and platform.
Recording audio is easy, but normal recording technologies only capture sound as a flat, one-dimensional track. Real sound, however, is bound by space and time. Not only does it come from different directions in a 360-degree area, some sounds also arrive sooner than others.
Usually, capturing 360 spatial audio requires specialized equipment. These days, however, smartphones and digital cameras have become the go to devices of many content creators. With OZO Audio, Nokia is promising you won’t need more than those. Any smartphone or digital camera can capture spatial or even full 3D audio, depending on the device’s configuration. Any phone that has two microphones, which is practically every smartphone in the market, can do spatial audio.
With 3 microphones, Nokia says OZO Audio can capture spatial 360-degree audio. With 4 mics, it can do full 3D. Nokia provides a sampler below to show the difference between a “market leading mobile device” without OZO Audio and one with a standard smartphone using OZO Audio. You might want to use headphones to actually tell the difference.
Like the OZO camera, Nokia is targeting OZO Audio at companies, specifically those that will integrate the audio recording technology with their smartphones or cameras. Hopefully, unlike the OZO camera, that addition won’t drive smartphone prices sky high.