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Telepresence For the 1%

Telepresence is something beyond any kind of desktop video calling/conferencing. I get that. A recent update to a post at Telepresence Options details Polycom’s band new Immersive Studio. Reading through the post I must say that I am intrigued and even impressed. However, the $426K starting price suggests that I never actually see one of these installations in person. These sorts of environments are clearly for the 1%.

That said, there are some notable things about the Immersive Studio, things that may be transferable to the rest of us. For example, they use 84” 4K LCD displays. They don’t intend to pass 4K video between sites, at least not yet. They still have 1080p cameras, up-scaling the video for display.

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Binaural Fun With AmbiExplorer For Android

AmbiExplorer_framedMy issue with use of the term 3D with reference to binaural voice conferencing service stems from the fact that I’ve been having some fun with real 3D audio over the past couple of months. This has come about since Hector Centeno released AmbiExplorer for Android, an application that lets us decode Ambisonic recordings for binaural playback in headphones.

AmbiExplorer plays back first-order B format files as well as UHJ encoded stereo files. As opposed to simply left, center, right, etc. a B format file is actually comprised of four channels known as W, X, Y & Z. These correspond to three directional signals and an omnidirectional reference signal.

By performing some matrix math on these signal in a coordinated fashion the entirety of the soundstage can be transformed in 3D space. AmbiExplorer decodes the four signals into a binaural feed, allowing the user to rotate their listening perspective in real-time. You can think of it as a 3-axis “balance” control.

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Podcasting: A Killer Application For Binaural Conferencing

Earlier this week a morning’s news dump brought with it something from Shel Holtz of Holtz Communication + Technology, a communication professional and long-time podcaster. He penned some interesting observations about the use of audio on the web in, “Listen up! You may be producing audio sooner than you think.” His post helped cast a new light on my perspective of binaural conference services like Voxeet and Dolby Voice. While I may have some reservations about their use in business, these could be killer tools for podcasters!

I must admit I was tempted to title this post with reference to binaural conference calls “getting rid of the voices inside my head.” That’s the value of the spatial effect, it expands the soundstage such that the call participants seem to be arrayed around one’s head instead of piled up between the ears.

For a podcast that has two more participants binaural conferencing is definitely an improvement over voices in mono. However, to make this convenient Voxeet et al would need to offer local call recording in their client. At present this is not offered, although it is on the Voxeet wish list.

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This is the sort of “3D” that I will not up with put!

3DRemember the opening sequence Sesame Street? Well, this post is brought to you by the number 3 and the letter D…cuz some of you weren’t paying attention all those years ago!

Both Voxeet and Dolby Voice are interesting binaural conference services. However, some of the marketecture being deployed sets off alarm bells in my mind. Despite claims to the contrary, and the echo of such claims by the media, I don’t believe that what they offer is “3D audio.”

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