SAN FRANCISCO -- Anyone who has seen the movie "Gravity" in a Dolby Atmos theater can understand what it's like to truly experience surround-sound.
The viewer becomes completely immersed in booms, echoes, smashes, and whispers -- space debris zooms overhead, loudly crashes into the International Space Station, and then there's total silence with just the faint murmur of Sandra Bullock's panicked breathing.
There's a reason why two of the movie's seven Academy awards were for sound.
Now Dolby is bringing this same experience to mobile. That's right, it's like a movie theater on your head.
"It gets very exciting when you think of taking that [Atmos] blueprint and putting it on a tablet or smartphone," Dolby Laboratories Product Manager for Mobile Joel Susal said in a presentation. "The goal is to transport you."
Dolby debuted its mobile audio technology during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month. The company explained that by using algorithms running on either a dedicated audio processor chip or an ARM processor core, it's able to simulate Atmos-like surround-sound by tricking listeners' brains into thinking the audio is 3D.
Atmos was launched in 2012 and since then all major Hollywood studios, along with top movie directors and sound mixers, have used it. Currently, there are 450 Atmos screens around the world and more than 100 films have incorporated the technology, including "Gravity" and "The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug."
Susal calls Atmos technology "object-based." This means that sound designers can place or move audio anywhere they like in an Atmos theater, such as the ceiling or the front left wall. The sound can also move across theaters' speakers, which makes for a very lifelike experience. For example, when a helicopter flies across a movie screen, viewers can hear the sound of the blades travel overhead and across the ceiling from one end to the other.
(Via CNET News.com.)