Microsoft HoloLens is Using Sound Design to Help on Suspension of Disbelief | #SoundDesign

Many of us are super excited about VR and how it will change not just gaming, but many different areas of society. But what about augmented reality (AR)? We gotta think about it hololensbecause, for me, it’s gonna be bigger and more mainst ream than VR in the foreseeable future. Besides, as audio professionals, we must ask: how sound can help us believe in and get more involved with holograms?! Well, Microsoft and its HoloLens team have some great ideas about this.

This video (from Engadget) shows us a bit of the challenges involved on the sound design process for HoloLens, and how Microsoft’s team is using top notch technology and science to make it work.

Amazing, right?! What about this anechoic chamber?! WOW!

After watching this, even a lay person that doesn’t understand anything about audio, can tell: sound is one of the roots on making the HoloLens experience plausible and believable. In other works, audio is an essential part on the suspension of disbelief – not just in this case, but it’s also true for games, films and VR. That’s how much sound is important to an immersive experience.

But, as Ivan Tashev points out:

“(…)it’s frequently underestimated how much a good spatial sound system can bring to the realism, which comes from the visual part. Specially in the virtual reality devices, and mixed reality devices , it has been kind of underestimated, the value it can bring.(…)”

Another quote with the same perspective is on the article where this video came from –
3D audio is the secret to HoloLens’ convincing holograms:

“Spatial sound roots holograms in your world,” says Matthew Lee Johnston, audio innovation director at Microsoft. “The more realistic we can make that hologram sound in your environment, the more your brain is going to interpret that hologram as being in your environment.”


“Audio is important in mixed reality and in VR because it ties the experience together,” says Strande. “It is often the second thing that game and app developers think about, but without audio you don’t suspend disbelief. To bring something to life, it has to have a sound aspect to it — especially if they’re holograms that are moving around you.”

Well, you got the idea.

The point is, before all this technology was way too expensive and complicated to be even considered as a product. Now, it’s almost there. We’ll finally see and experience something that is truly “Sci-Fi”. And we, as sound engineers, mus be prepared to deal with spatial sound. And, maybe, this is the perfect time to start. Why?

Well, there no “big specialists” on the field yet. Many of the procedures and best practices are being discovered and created as people sit and try out new things with spatial sound.

More than that, I think sound is going to be less overlooked in VR and AR. It seems developers and producers are realizing that it’s as an important area of development as any of the others.

So, lets be prepared.

Mauricio Ruiz –

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