Studies In Spatial Aural Perception: Establishing Foundations For Immersive Sonification

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Georgia Institute of Technology

The Spatial Audio Data Immersive Experience (SADIE) project aims to identify new foundational relationships pertaining to human spatial aural perception, and to validate existing relationships. Our infrastructure consists of an intuitive interaction interface, an immersive exocentric sonification environment, and a layer-based amplitude-panning algorithm. Here we highlight the system’s unique capabilities and provide findings from an initial externally funded study that focuses on the assessment of human aural spatial perception capacity. When compared to the existing body of literature focusing on egocentric spatial perception, our data show that an immersive exocentric environment enhances spatial perception, and that the physical implementation using high density loudspeaker arrays enables significantly improved spatial perception accuracy relative to the egocentric and virtual binaural approaches. The preliminary observations suggest that human spatial aural perception capacity in real-world-like immersive exocentric environments that allow for head and body movement is significantly greater than in egocentric scenarios where head and body movement is restricted. Therefore, in the design of immersive auditory displays, the use of immersive exocentric environments is advised. Further, our data identify a significant gap between physical and virtual human spatial aural perception accuracy, which suggests that further development of virtual aural immersion may be necessary before such an approach may be seen as a viable alternative.