Facebook is continuing to build its virtual reality business and has recently acquired a small startup called Two Big Ears, a U.K.-based startup specializing in three-dimensional sound. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed by the social networking giant.
How does Facebook plan to use this technology?
In a blog post on Monday, the social networking site said it will incorporate the audio technology into its own virtual reality projects. The startup, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, was set up to help companies like those in the video game business better incorporate the so-called spatial audio in their products.
Spatial audio refers to the notion of replicating sound in a live 3D space using a combination of speakers, an amplifier and sound processing technology. For instance, if a person straps on a headset and is transported to a virtual beach, the audio he receives from the headset ought to give an accurate presentation of the scene. The ocean waves should not sound farther away but closer to the person, depending on where they are sitting in the virtual environment.
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Facebook did not explain its plans to incorporate the technology into its Oculus Rift headset or related software. However, the social media giant did say that the team will be working with the Oculus team to create best-in-class VR audio by combining their expertise. In addition to this, Facebook’s 360 Spatial Workstation, the startup’s audio software suite for VR and 360 video, is available for free download via Facebook.
Making life easier for developers
Facebook further said that its pipeline for cinematic VR and 360 video, including an encoder, rendering engine and authoring tools, are available for free, and the social media giant is excited to be able to continue developing amazing tools for people worldwide.
“3Dception for Games will no longer be a separate product but we will be working with the Oculus team to combine our expertise and create best in class VR audio. Existing Pro customers will continue to receive support in accordance with your current agreement for the next 12 months,” the blog post reads.
Facebook is attempting to convince developers to build apps and software for its Oculus software suite, so this move makes sense. With the acquisition, the social media giant is giving coders tools to incorporate sound technology easily to attract developers. Both the Samsung Gear VR headset and Facebook’s Oculus Rift are powered by the Oculus software. In April, Samsung counted more than 1 million Gear users, suggesting the growing popularity of VR devices.