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Interactive Audio Adds To Olympic Viewing Experience

Fraunhofer IIS
The future of TV includes personalizing the sound.

Have you ever wanted to turn down the sound of a TV sports announcer and turn up the crowd noise or hear the coaching? It's possible with 3D audio technology from Fraunhofer available in South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The German company rolled out its MPEG-H audio last spring in South Korea and broadcasters are planning to incorporate it into their Olympics coverage. It is not yet available in the U.S.

The 3D audio is in three different formats:

  • Immersive Sound - Increase the realism of sound.
  • Interactive Audio - Gives consumers the ability to adjust the sound mix to their preferences.
  • Universal Delivery - MPEG-H tailors playback to sound best on any device and in any environment.

Fraunhofer technology consultant Stefan Meltzer says the sound isn't just for the Olympics. "Imagine you are listening to it on a mobile phone or tablet and, if you listen at home, everything is quiet. It's nice. But if you listen to the same content at the train station or the airport, then you have a lot of environmental noise. In this case, you would like to raise the dialogue and not the overall volume to have a better understanding of what's spoken."

By 2020, MPEG-H will be available in all of Korea with enabled TVs from Samsung and LG. It's unclear when the technology will be available for the rest of the world.

Fraunhofer is also involved in virtual reality. The company doesn't make the hardware but licenses the codecs and helps companies understand how to capture 3D audio. Codecs are devices that compress the data to enable faster transmission and decompress received data.