Oculus Rift SDK introduces suite of VR audio

Oculus has introduced a handful of new attributes to its Rift SDK that all seek out to give activity developers the ability to produce immersive VR ordeals as a result of quality, spatialized audio.

The firm ran down every new addition in a submit shared on the Oculus Weblog and took a instant to detail its foreseeable future plans for VR-centric audio as properly.

In the vicinity of-Discipline HRTF is just one of the new additions introduced to the Rift SDK and principally focuses on enhanced sound directionality in just one meter of the participant.

Previous audio filters ended up predominantly created with sounds around a meter absent from the participant in mind and, as a end result, did not offer a significant quantity of precision for nearby sounds. In the vicinity of-Discipline HRTF aims to address that and provide extra exact spatialized audio.

Additionally, the group has additional Volumetric Seems Sources that aim to realistically scale the volume of a sound’s origin based on each dimensions and posture. The tech makes it possible for developers to product objects and assign the radius in which that object jobs sound. 

Illustrations and extra in-depth explanations of each of these developments can be found in the blog submit. 

Meanwhile, Oculus notes that it is nonetheless forging ahead to deliver extra reasonable spatialized audio to VR. Correct now that means functioning with sound reflections and hunting at ways to assistance audio designers produce sound that matches an ecosystem mechanically.

“The get the job done we’re accomplishing in this region can make what you understand in VR come to feel like the true planet with no obtaining to really product the true planet,” says Oculus’ software engineering supervisor Pete Stirling. “All these tiny cues that you are made use of to obtaining in true life—they aren’t there in VR. We’re gradually including them in. Each and every tiny piece is cumulative, and it can make a large distinction.”

Google Home now lowers the volume of casting audio when using Google Assistant

If you’ve ever tried to ask your Google Home a question when it’s casting audio to a TV or speaker, you’re probably aware that it can have trouble understanding you when the audio is too loud. I’ve run into this countless times, so I’m happy to report that Google is now working to make this a much more seamless operation.

Now, when your Google Home is casting videos or music to a TV or speaker, the Assistant will automatically lower the volume so it can better understand what you’re saying. For instance, if you’re casting a YouTube video to your television from your Google Home and want to ask it a question (such as “turn the volume down”), your TV will lower when you say “Ok Google” and stay at that level until you’re done talking to the Assistant. This feature should now be enabled by default.

Related: How to sign up for the Google Home Preview Program

I’ve been able to make this work on my Google Home running on preview firmware version 97091, though it sounds like some users don’t have access to the feature yet. If you’d like to see if it’s live for you, navigate to the devices section in your Google Home app, and you should see an option called Lower volume when listening.

However, this feature won’t work in all cases. Here are the list of exceptions for when Google Home won’t lower the volume:

  • If you’re casting music on a group of Cast devices.
  • If you started casting content on a TV or speaker using a mobile phone and not your voice.
  • When casting content on an Android TV devices with fixed volume (e.g. Nexus Player)
  • When casting content on a Chromecast built-in speaker or TV, or Android TV running Chromecast firmware version older than 1.25. Here’s how to check your firmware version.
  • For TV shows and movies when playback is done at 5.1 surround sound.

This should make talking to your Assistant much easier. Are you seeing this feature yet? Let us know in the comments below.

Echo’s multi-room audio: What you need to know | VentureBeat | AI

Tech companies have worked hard over the past few years to make the music listening experience a ubiquitous one. Thanks to recent developments in streaming services and truly wireless headphones, we’re closer than ever to taking every song ever written with us wherever we go.

But one area where we’ve struggled is whole-home audio. Enter Amazon and multi-room music streaming. Like most Amazon consumer technology, its solution to multi-room audio is both cheap and convenient.

On August 29, Amazon released a press statement confirming that the Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show products are now all capable of multi-room audio.

“Today, we’re making Alexa even smarter with an all-new feature that lets you play music synchronized on multiple Echo devices to provide room-filling music throughout your home,” said Toni Reid, vice president of Amazon Alexa, in the press release.

To activate multi-room audio, create a device group within the Alexa app and then simply tell Alexa, “Play my music everywhere.”

Amazon takes on whole-home audio

You may be familiar with existing whole-home audio solutions such as Sonos, Google Home, Chromecast and the upcoming HomePod from Apple. Amazon recently joined these tech stalwarts by activating multi-room audio capabilities on Echo devices via a software update.

The intention, of course, is to create a system where users can synchronize in-progress audio streams across multiple Amazon devices — one in each room, perhaps, or even spread out across multiple floors in your home. Industry insiders expect the new feature will add layers of complexity and customizability, too. Rather than just “flinging” music from a single source to a single speaker, you can group two or more Amazon devices and play music through all of them at once.

The implication is that multi-room audio will be available to you no matter which, or how many, Amazon devices you use on a regular basis. You’ll soon be able to synchronize your indoor playlist with, say, a series of speakers on your deck or patio. Each of these zones — living room, basement, patio area — should be able to play the same music at the same time or different playlists concurrently.

It’s hard to overstate what an improvement this is over the current functionality of Amazon’s standalone connected devices. It means Amazon is clearly reading the writing on the wall, too. Multi-room audio functionality has been an expected part of a device like Echo or Alexa for some time. Its arrival is just one more way Silicon Valley can continually raise the bar for itself and take exciting, futuristic features into the mainstream.

Why now — and why Amazon?

You might not be totally on board with the idea of packing your house with always-on, always-listening devices like Echo and Dot. Nevertheless, Amazon seems to have hit upon a sweet spot in the tech market — devices cheap enough and capable enough to sell at scale as impulse buys. Amazon’s connected home devices are almost perpetually on sale, meaning now that the update is live, you can outfit your home with audio capabilities on the cheap.

Sonos speakers, on the other hand, carry price tags of usually more than $200 each. Apple’s upcoming HomePod raises the barrier of entry to the $350 mark — and yes, that’s just for one speaker, albeit a beautiful-looking and -sounding one.

One final note concerns which streaming music and audio sources are able to take advantage of Amazon’s multi-room functionality. It’s true that Amazon does support the most familiar audio sources out of the box, and there are workarounds for almost everything else. In its press release, however, the company clarified that mutli-room audio is available for Amazon Music, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Pandora. Unfortunately, Spotify and SiriusXM don’t have multi-room capabilities as of this writing, but Amazon promises multi-room support for those services is coming soon.

It’s always an exciting prospect to see new features added to physical products via software updates. If Amazon gets this right (and so far, so good), it could be a serious shot across the bow to some of the other, pricier multi-room speaker solutions on the market today.

Kayla Matthews is a technology writer interested in AI, chatbots, and tech news. She writes for VentureBeat, MakeUseOf, The Week, and TechnoBuffalo.

How to fix out-of-sync audio on your NVIDIA Shield

How do I fix out-of-sync audio on the NVIDIA Shield Android TV?

If there’s one thing that’s frustrating with watching streaming digital content it’s when the audio is just off from the video. Once you notice it you can’t not notice it.

And for whatever reason, it’s an issue that’s been affecting my NVIDIA Shield Android TV for the past few months — and I’m not the only one. It’s a common enough issue that it keeps popping up in forums and affecting some of the most popular streaming video apps.

Video with the audio out of sync is just plain awful, and there appears to be no rhyme or reason for why this issue seems to affect the NVIDIA Shield. Fortunately, there are some tips to get your Shield back in sync.

Make sure your software is up to date

This one is an obvious one, but you should always make sure that you’re Shield is running on the latest updated version. It’s the best practice to set your devices to automatically check for new updates so you don’t have to manually check yourself. And actually install the updates when they pop up (I’m as guilty as anyone for putting updates off).

Some people found the issue fixed by simply updating to the latest build, while others found the issue persists or seems to be specific to a particular app. That’s when it may be time to dive deeper into the Shield’s advanced settings.

Check the latest Shield TV software release at NVIDIA

Adjust the audio video sync

If you’ve found that a specific app or video file is just slightly out of sync, you can manually adjust the audio video sync in the advanced display and audio settings.

  1. Select the Settings icon.
  2. Select Display & Sound
  3. Select Advanced settings.
  4. Select Audio Video Sync.
  5. Use the slider to match the bouncing ball to the sound.

Make an adjustment and then return to your streaming video to see if it made an impact. NVIDIA specifically states this tool is ideal for those using a USB DAC for audio or using a digital receiver to pull in a TV signal.

Give everything a hard reboot

The makeshift solution that worked for me involved unplugging the Shield console leaving it turned off for a few minutes. While a fresh boot seemed to get things back in sync for a little while, the audio would slowly start to fall back out of sync after a short while.

I reached out to NVIDIA’s support team, and they offered the following steps as a possible solution, which they said should fix any audio latency that may be caused by interference caused by other devices on or located within my wireless network. NVIDIA recommends you connect to a 5GHz Wi-Fi network if possible.

  1. Power cycle your wireless router by unplugging the power cord and waiting 15-20 seconds before powering it back on.
  2. Unplug all the cables and keep the Shield off for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Plug in the power cable, a controller through USB, and an Ethernet cable directly from the router. Do not connect an HDMI cable.
  4. When the device powers up, let it idle for a few minutes then continuously tap the A button for a few seconds.
  5. Leave the device in this state with the HDMI cable for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Plug the Shield into a TV via HDMI and test the audio playback in a video.

These steps worked for me and they should work for you, too. However, due to where my router is located in my house I’m unable to have the Shield plugged in via Ethernet, so I have to go back to a Wi-Fi connection. I won’t be terribly surprised if the audio falls back out of sync again.

Have you had this issue with the NVIDIA Shield?

We want to know if this is a common issue with Shield TV owners. Have you dealt with delayed audio video sync? What fixes have you tried?

Audio firm Harman aims for sales boost, new deals after Samsung takeover

BERLIN (Reuters) – Audio specialist Harman International wants to nearly treble annual sales by 2025 by partnering with tech groups such as Amazon (AMZN.O), Google (GOOGL.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O), as well as its new owner, Samsung (005930.KS), its chief executive said on Friday.

CEO Dinesh Palliwal, in an interview at the IFA consumer electronics fair, said he had set an internal goal to make Harman a $20 billion business within eight years, up from around $7.3 billion currently, through a mix of internal growth and bolt-on deals.

He declined to name specific targets but said that acquisitions could come in the fields of artificial intelligence, voice recognition, machine learning and the internet of things.

The aim is to expand the three parts of its business: consumer and professional audio products, along with its biggest operation, automotive audio and parts supply.

Six months after Harman was acquired for $8 billion by Samsung Electronics – the largest overseas deal ever for the South Korean group – Palliwal said his firm would retain a distinct strategy and a strong measure of independence from the parent.

This week Harman introduced in Berlin new audio speakers that talk to Google (GOOGL.O) Home and Amazon (AMZN.O) Alexa, the top voice-controlled digital assistants on the market. Harman is also demonstrating speakers that can be run by voice commands from Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) forthcoming Cortana assistant that are set to be released later this year.

“What is the long-term strategy? To continue to be agnostic; to provide excellent product,” Palliwal said. “People want choice and they do not want to sacrifice the quality of sound. This is where Harman comes in.”

Such voice-activated products – which can steer music systems, dim the lights, tell jokes or activate a security system – hook up their owners to the so-called internet of things without them having to type instructions on a smartphone or a computer keyboard.

Harman is also working to provide Samsung’s digital assistant, Bixby, with “the world’s best, enabled, smart, intelligent speaker,” Palliwal said, “but it won’t replace the others,” he said, referring to working with rivals such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine and Eric Auchard in Berlin. Editing by Jane Merriman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Motorola X4: Four times the Bluetooth audio

Credit: Motorola Mobility

Lenovo’s new Motorola X4 smartphone is half the price of Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S8, but does at least one thing twice as well: stream audio to multiple Bluetooth speakers or headphones.

The S8 can drive two Bluetooth speakers or headphones simultaneously but the mid-range X4 handset, unveiled at IFA on Thursday, stands out with its ability to drive up to four generic Bluetooth stereo speakers simultaneously. That’s enough for a whole-home sound system, as long as your home is small.

There are plenty of multi-room speaker systems out there, but most of them rely on either proprietary wireless protocols, like Sonos, or on Wi-Fi for connectivity.

You can achieve a similar result over Bluetooth using something like Pansonic’s All05 speakers, which can synchronize with one another and present themselves to your phone as a single Bluetooth device, or by driving your Bluetooth speakers from a Mac, using the Audio Devices utility in macOS to combine them into a single multi-output device.

Synchronizing multiple audio devices the way the X4 does can’t be done with Android’s standard Bluetooth drivers, but that’s not what Motorola is using to pull off this feat. Instead, it has tweaked its Bluetooth software stack to incorporate the Wireless Sound System developed by Tempow, a French startup.

Moto X4 wireless settings Peter Sayer/IDG

Motorola’s X4 handset relies on the Wireless Sound System from Tempow to send audio to multiple Bluetooth devices. 

Audio devices are paired and connected in the usual way. The Wireless Sound System settings panel then allows the sound level and audio channels (left, right or both) to be set for each device. The combined speakers (or headphones) are treated just like any other audio device by the operating system, so any app can play sound through them.

Want Hi-Res audio from Google Home? Deezer has you covered

Want to hear your music in crystal-clear 44.1 kHz/16-bit? Just ask. 

Deezer announced today that it’s finally expanding its HiFi program from Sonos systems to Google Home, Chromecast Audio and to any Chromecast device via Deezer’s mobile app. 

According to Deezer, that integration will include all speakers with Google’s Chromecast built-in tech, which means you’ll also see Deezer HiFi on Sony, Samsung, Yamaha, Bang & Olufsen, Onkyo, Pioneer, AudioPro and Devialet speakers in the near future.

But what, exactly, qualifies as Hi-Def these days? 

According to Deezer’s definition, it’s 44kHz/16-bit stereo audio – or 1,411kbps lossless FLAC. For reference, that’s about 4.4 times greater than the streaming music industry’s standard of 320kbps, which Spotify uses, and 7.3 times better than the 192kbps streaming you’ll hear on Pandora. 

While Tidal has long been the ruler of the Hi-Def audio realm, especially in the US, Deezer beat it to the punch on integrating into Google’s voice control system, a move that might help solidify the streaming service’s hold on the HiFi world. 

The HiFi Home

Besides Deezer, Google Home only supports Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora and Pandora via voice commands, which puts the streaming service in a pretty selective club.

Deezer HiFi was introduced in the US for the first time two years ago as Deezer Elite, a Hi-Def flavor of the streaming service that could only be played on Sonos systems – a kind of  unfortunate limitation for the system, especially for those looking for an alternative to Tidal. 

Now that partnership has expanded to include a half-dozen new partners.

“With more and more consumers embracing voice activated services and a clear market for high quality audio, it is important that we are in a position to offer both to ensure the best possible experience,” said Riad Hawa, Deezer VP of Hardware Partnerships.

Deezer HiFi is available for $19.99 per month and includes full access to Premium+ (no ads, unlimited music on mobile devices, no advertisements). 

LG Video Teases Audio Capabilities Of The LG V30

LG has released another commercial for the LG V30, and this time, the ad focuses on the audio capabilities of the handset. The video, entitled “The next V: Immersive sound”, was released by the smartphone manufacturer on its official YouTube channel last August 24. The commercial contains snippets of audio ranging from party and pop music to classical pieces, with the logo and shape of the upcoming handset appearing at the end.

The LG V series is known for its media capabilities, with every handset in the lineup sporting a dedicated digital to audio converter (DAC). Recent rumors have claimed that all models of the LG V30 will contain a dedicated quad DAC, which should improve both the music playback quality and the clarity of recorded audio by reducing noise levels. The quad DAC present in last year’s LG V20 manages to reduce ambient noise by 50 percent, and it is interesting to see how much the hardware has improved over the past few months.

The South Korean smartphone manufacturer is expected to unveil the LG V30 in an IFA Berlin event, on August 31. The device maker already confirmed that the LG V30 will sport a 6-inch FullVision P-OLED display, with an aspect ratio of 18:9. Recent rumors state the secondary display has been dropped, but it will likely be replaced by an implementation of the Always-On Display, which should be more power-efficient due to the smartphone’s OLED panel. Another rumored alternative to the secondary display is a floating bar that contains shortcuts to certain applications. The device will likely be powered by the Snapdragon 835 chipset from Qualcomm, which is comprised of octa-core Kryo 280 64-bit CPU and the Adreno 540 GPU. In addition, the handset will likely sport 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal flash storage. Like previous LG flagships, the LG V30 will sport dual rear cameras, while a fingerprint scanner will be located below the two shooters. The device will likely launch with Android 7.1.1 Nougat pre-installed, and it will also support fast charging and Bluetooth 5.0. More information about the handset will likely be released next week during LG’s event in IFA Berlin.

Google Home Bluetooth Audio Streaming Finally Rolled-Out In Latest Firmware Update

If you own a Google Home device and have been craving some Bluetooth audio action, then you should be really happy to know that as of right now, an update is being rolled out to the devices that will remedy a very long-standing request from consumers.

google home

Up to this point, those wanting to listen to music through their Google Home have had to use one of the supported platforms, which have included Spotify, Play Music (of course), and Pandora. That’s great if you want one of the services, but if you have another app to play your own local music, or some other streaming service, you’ve been out of luck until right now.

In the most up-to-date version of the Google Home app, you should now be able to see a section to create a paired Bluetooth device, as seen in the shot below. This could be your smartphone, tablet, notebook, or even desktop if you happen to have a Bluetooth chip installed.

Google Home Bluetooth 2

This might seem like a minor update, but in actually, it’s a small one that finally brings Google’s platform at music-streaming parity with Amazon’s super-successful Echo family of devices. If you’ve been waiting for this feature to be implemented, you may recall that it was accidentally enabled back in June, and even today, it seems like there is a chance that the implementation isn’t perfect.

It might be best to consider it a “beta” for the time-being, even if it’s not labeled as such. Given how long this seemingly simple feature took to get here, it wouldn’t be surprising if there were still some rough edges to be smoothed out.

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Apple Watch, out in September, will not need to hyperlink to Iphone to make phone calls or stream audio

Apple is gearing up to launch a new Apple Watch that may not call for tethering to an Iphone for vital capabilities such as phone calls, earning it a stand-by yourself gadget, according to a source with knowledge of the make a difference.

The US tech giant will launch the subsequent era Apple Watch in September when it is also envisioned to acquire the wraps off three new Iphone versions, states the source.

Apple Watch has always been expected to be connected to an Iphone in get to acquire texts or make phone calls. But the subsequent era model will have cellular connectivity, very likely by means of an embedded SIM relatively than actual physical SIM card people will have to set in.

Adding cellular connectivity will allow individuals to carry out responsibilities such as streaming audio without the need for an Iphone.

A September unveiling also helps make sense for the reason that Apple has presently declared ideas to launch watchOS 4 – its wearable running method – in the autumn. This will consist of new functions all-around audio as very well as a Siri-based mostly observe encounter, each of which would advantage from stand-by yourself observe capabilities.

But cellular connectivity is incredibly battery draining and this could be a difficulty for Apple. But if it can build a battery successful gadget, that will be a big constructive, analysts say.

“It is a earn-earn for Apple as it will travel up the normal advertising price tag of the gadget for the reason that they will be much more costly,” states Neil Shah, investigation director of gadgets and ecosystems at Counterpoint Exploration.

“It will cater to the market current market of well being and health people who never want to carry their Iphone when they go for a operate. It will also be excellent for enterprise use cases.”

An Apple spokesperson was not obtainable for remark at the time of publication.

The very first Apple Watch was declared in September 2014 alongside new iPhones. The Apple Watch Sequence 2 was unveiled two decades afterwards, all over again alongside iPhones. It appears, nevertheless, that Apple is decreasing the time it usually takes to announce a different Apple Watch, presented the third model is very likely to be declared in September.