What role does sound play in augmented reality? Facebook’s FRL research team is testing an AR audio system which gives you the power to amplify vocals and reduce background noise in real time. AR audio technology could be a key part of Facebook’s experimental AR glasses, which are still at an early stage of development.
Facebook is focused on social engagement, even with its experimental AR glasses. Embedding AR audio technology into a pair of smart frames could help people communicate in a loud bar, for example, or give you the power to mute the band at a gig while you’re talking to a friend. Sounds like a superpower, right?
The FRL research team’s AR glasses contain a range of microphones and connect to two in-ear monitors, the sophisticated headphones that musicians use on stage. These microphones use near-wave beamforming technology to capture and isolate nearby sounds (including the wearer’s voice), which the wearer can detect by pointing their head at an audio source or flipping a hardware switch. .
Facebook claims that the “perceptual superpowers” generated by its AR glasses could find its way into VR systems like the Oculus Rift. But unlike Facebook’s AR glasses, the Rift won’t enhance real-world sounds. Instead, it will generate a sound environment that sounds real and provides better immersion for games.
Facebook’s AR glasses are still an experimental product. The company has not announced plans to release AR glasses or any other perceptual audio equipment.