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Digital Catapult & the BPI amplify the power of sound in immersive content



Digital Catapult, in collaboration with record labels body the BPI and its BPI Innovation Hub, is proud to present Surroundscapes

This industry-leading showcase combines audio with virtual and augmented reality technology to demonstrate the power of richer sound in immersive content and standalone augmented audio experiences. 

In the latest immersive showcase from Digital Catapult, Surroundscapes will present six companies, selected from over 30 applicants, developing tools and solutions at the leading edge of amplifying the power of sound in VR, AR and MR experiences, bringing together global industry leaders, hardware providers, sound-led content creators, investors, and commissioners and producers. 

Digital Catapult has convened a panel of expert international speakers from across industry for the Surroundscapes event on 17 July, to explore the impact of the growing focus on immersive sound and how it can amplify and transform immersive experiences, and draw on real-life examples of pioneering work in music and broadcast: 

●        Matt Neutra – Manager of Experience Prototyping - Lead Experience Engineer, BoseAR 
●        Mirek Stiles – Head of Audio Products, Abbey Road Red Board Member, and founder of the Abbey Road Red Spatial Audio Forum, Abbey Road Studios
●        Jack Reynolds – Future Experiences & Technology group, BBC R&D
●        Amelia Kallman – Futurist and Director of Communications, Inition
●        Andreas Ehret – VP Consumer Entertainment and Technology, Dolby

Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult, said: “Sound has a magical effect on our emotions and the way we interact with all kinds of experiences, so there’s no reason for audio to be a mere afterthought when it comes to developing ground-breaking immersive content. We’re already seeing the tangible and powerful results of sound-led VR experiences.” 

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI & BRIT Awards, said: “Digital music gives us myriad ways to discover and enjoy new tunes and sounds, but increasing focus is coming on the richness and depth of that sonic experience.  Cutting-edge new tech, such as immersive audio used in VR and other applications, give us a glimpse of how this exciting new world of consumption and entertainment will take shape, and we are delighted to be partnering Digital Catapult on Surroundscapes to explore the expansive potential that it offers.” 

After a competitive selection process, Digital Catapult and BPI welcome six of the most innovative immersive sound companies in the UK: 

●        1.618 Digital: a creative sound design studio offering audio production and post-production services, immersive & spatial audio solutions for 360 video content, interactive VR/AR media and intelligent audio branding.
●        Darkfield: a collection of individual theatrical experiences in shipping containers that explore fear and anxiety, each show employs binaural sound, pitch darkness and movement to situate each audience member at the centre of an evolving narrative.
●        MagicBeans: create amazing shared audio experiences that captivate and engage audiences using advanced augmented reality audio mapped to physical spaces.
●        PlayLines: a London-based immersive AR studio that creates digital layers of narrative and gameplay in iconic locations, they work with venues, attractions and festivals to add compelling new digital dimensions to their spaces.
●        Volta: a new way to visualise sound in a 3D space providing a first person perspective user experience built for spatial audio.
●        ZoneMe: developed a 3D audio system which renders object-based sound over loudspeaker arrays to give a truly accurate representation of soundscapes right across the listening space so everyone gets the same experience and can interact with the soundscape together.

As immersive audio production becomes more prevalent within the VR/AR industry, Digital Catapult’s market research has shown there are at least twenty UK companies developing the infrastructure and tools for sound-based solutions, with even more creating sound-led immersive experiences. The global 3D audio market is projected to grow by 16.5% between 2018 and 2026, according to Coherent Market Insights, driven in particular by a growth in audio hardware adoption and consumer demand. 

Two companies from Digital Catapult’s immersive content accelerator CreativeXR are part of a wave of companies helping to grow the immersive audio market: Darkfield and Abandon Normal Devices are both producing immersive sound-led experiences as part of the 2019 cohort. And in the first CreativeXR cohort, Roomsize developed Open Space, a platform which enables the rapid construction of interactive audio experiences that occupy physical spaces.

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