Meta has added immersive audio capabilities to its proprietary Presence Platform. The “XR Audio SDK” is designed to make it easier for developers to incorporate spatial, localized audio, Developer Oculus reports.
It’s currently only available for the Unity engine, which is widely used in VR. Support is planned for Unreal Engine, Wwise, and FMOD.
The Presence Platform is a collection of development tools and programming interfaces that enable hands and voice interaction and augmented reality capabilities with Quest 2 and Quest Pro, for example.
Applications of the new immersive audio features include virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. For the latter, Meta’s Quest 2 and Quest Pro VR headsets add computer graphics to the video image from their front-facing cameras.
In addition to Meta devices, the new audio SDK supports “almost any standalone mobile VR device” as well as PC VR (e.g. Steam VR) and third-party devices.
New features include better handling of the head, outer ear, and torso filtering effects that greatly affect sound in the real world: The Head-Related Transfer Function (HRTF) is designed to mimic authentic audio perception accurately. Without it, sounds in your immediate environment will sound unnatural.
The Spatial Audio Rendering and Room Acoustics features build on the previous Oculus Spatializer and will continue to be developed. The system is much better suited for use in VR than the built-in audio systems in popular game engines, which are primarily designed for consoles and PCs, Meta said in its developer blog.
The new Audio SDK offers both flexibility and ease of use. According to Meta, even developers with no audio experience will be able to mix audio, which is essential for immersion.
What else we need to know
The previous Oculus Spatializer will continue to be supported in Unreal Engine, FMOD or Wwise or for those who prefer a native API solution. Meta does not recommend upgrading in these areas yet.
For new projects in Unity Engine, Meta recommends using the new “XR Audio SDK” to better maintain applications in the long run or to try out experimental features.