One of the highlights of CEDIA EXPO 2021 was our meeting with the team at Spatial Inc. The company has recently unveiled a new kind of immersive audio experience that creates soundscapes for a variety of applications including theme parks, commercial spaces and residential properties – indoors and out.
Most of our readers are familiar with immersive soundscapes created typically in home theaters by purveyors such as Dolby (Dolby Atmos) and DTS. Surround sound, if you will. In these formats, time is progressive and linear, with a beginning, middle and end of a story. Spatial is disrupting these types of soundscapes with a non-linear, three-dimensional approach that is daunting in concept but fairly simple to grasp with a simple illustration.
At an undisclosed location in Marin County amongst the redwoods, a three-acre property has been outfitted with hundreds of channels of audio (custom speakers from James Loudspeakers) in a three-dimensional array. Using Lidar to map the space, speakers are installed at ground level and then begin to move upwards, with the highest regions reaching 90 feet! As Calin Pacurariu, Co-Founder and CEO of Spatial explained, “When a Star Wars TIE fighter comes zipping by overhead, you swear it is actually passing above the trees.”
Imagine immersive waterfalls, or nature scenes – National Geographic Society is an early collaborator – and like any other type of audio experience, it is only your imagination that is a limiting faction. Want to recreate the feel of being a professional golfer on the PGA tour? No problem. Spatial can outfit your golf simulator to give you the actual sound from the middle of the fairway during a tournament. Want to increase the crowd noise while watching a sporting event so you feel like you are actually at the game? No problem there, either.
The Spatial Reality engine is built on an object-driven platform that renders realistic, believable soundscapes in real time, with natural physics and complex object behaviors that allow for all day dynamic experiences. It is designed to run on off-the-shelf MacOS and Linux computers, rather than demanding custom hardware, with industry-standard audio equipment.
Spatial experiences are completely interactive, encouraging guests to explore and experiment throughout any given space. With comprehensive support for both inputs and outputs, Spatial experiences can react to anything in real time, from sensors and computer vision systems in the space to data feeds and live audio streams. The same holds true for outputs, with the action in a Spatial experience driving lighting, control systems or whatever you can imagine for a completely immersive engagement.