Valve has announced the Steam Audio SDK. It allows developers to provide sound reproduction in their software that adapts to virtual objects. The audio technology can be used for VR applications, among other things.
Steam Audio provides HRTF-based spatial representation of audio, but adds a physics-based property of sound propagation in virtual spaces. “Sounds interact with and bounce off the geometry of environments, giving the impression that they’re actually in the scenes,” as Valve puts it.
According to the company, Steam Audio ensures little CPU overhead and a single core can process hundreds or even thousands of sound sources. In VR, if users only see part of a sound source, Steam Audio will only hear part of the sound production. Furthermore, with audio technology, the material type of virtual objects can influence the reverberation. For example, a carpet will reflect sound differently than a glass plate.
Valve makes the Steam Audio SDK available for free and this technology can be used in combination with Windows, Linux, macOS and Android. The company got its hands on the technology early this year with the acquisition of 3D audio company Impulsonic.