AR glasses can enhance hearing in noisy places, Facebook says

The AR glasses will be able enhance people’s hearing abilities.   | Photo Credit: Facebook

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Facebook Reality Labs Research said it is working on developing technology to help people hear better in noisy environments using augmented reality (AR) glasses.

The AR glasses will be able enhance people’s hearing abilities to a level where they will be able to hear better in noisy places such as restaurants, coffee shops, and concerts.

Facebook says, the audio team has a two-fold mission to create virtual sounds that are perceptually indistinguishable from real ones, and to redefine human hearing. They are doing this by working on audio presence and 'perceptual superpowers'.

Audio presence is experiencing virtual sound as real. And perpetual superpower technology reduces unwanted background noises.

Research Scientist Pablo Hoffmann has developed an always-on audio calibration system that works with a pair of headphones with strategically placed microphones. The microphones record sounds in a room from a listener’s perspective. When the audio recording is played back, it feels real that the listener virtually cannot distinguish it from the real thing.

FRL Research audio demo.

FRL Research audio demo.   | Photo Credit: Facebook


The team is also working on telepresence technology - the ability to feel present in a location other than your own, in real time. By using a modified virtual reality (VR) headset and a pair of headphones, an array of 32 microphones captures the sounds in a room and delivers spatialised audio directly to a wearer’s headphones, Facebook noted.

“With a phone call today, the other person’s voice sounds like it’s coming from the phone itself, so your brain rejects the idea that the other person might be in the same location as you,” Facebook said. “Spatial audio mimics the directions that sounds come from in real life and the environmental acoustics, so you more fully experience social presence.”

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Further, the AR glasses will feature multiple earphones, to capture the sounds around the wearer. The technology will then use the pattern of people’s head and eye movements to assess the sounds they are interested in hearing. It then enhances the right sounds for the wearer and dims others, even in loud background noise.

FRL Research in-ear monitors.

FRL Research in-ear monitors.   | Photo Credit: Facebook


“We’re currently developing special in-ear monitors, an output prototype, that will let us use active noise cancellation technologies to effectively turn down the volume on unwanted background noise, helping people to hear more clearly and safely in noisy environments,” Facebook said in a blog post. “And when we pair this with FRL Research’s input prototype, including the microphone array, we can deliver the full experience of auditory superpowers.”

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 6:05:36 AM |

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