Noticed among the many Game Developer Conference 2017 sessions, Microsoft is advertising spatial audio features for both Windows and Xbox, necessary to power immersive sound for both virtual and augmented reality experiences.
The listing (thanks, Beatsteak23), is titled "Introducing Spatial Audio Capabilities for Xbox and Windows (Presented by Microsoft)," and it describes new capabilities coming for game developers in the Windows 10 Creators Update, slated for Spring 2017.
"A key component of audio immersion is sound localization: sound appearing to come from a specific position in space. In both virtual and augmented worlds, spatial perception can be a critical component to successful user interactions. This talk covers new capabilities of the Windows 10 Creators Update that enable consistent and intuitive spatial implementations that span devices (headphones and speakers), experiences, and technologies."
Some have speculated that Microsoft may be reducing its focus on VR after the company removed virtual reality references from the Project Scorpio website, but this information clearly contradicts any such rumors. If Xbox is to take advantage of VR and AR, it will need the audio tools to match.
Update: Microsoft just announced that mixed reality experiences will be coming to Project Scorpio in 2018, slipping past the console's planned Holiday 2017 launch date.
Microsoft is also working to include Dolby Atmos support for Xbox One and Windows 10, which is touted as a "next-generation" audio experience to surpass surround sound. This session may include information about how developers can leverage Dolby Atmos to create a more immersive 3D sound experience on compatible devices.
The Xbox Insider Program is currently testing a wealth of new functionality slated for the Creators Update this Spring. The Alpha and Beta rings are being updated with new features all the time, so it probably won't be long now until we see some of these new audio features break cover.
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