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BBC R&D showcases new technology at Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games will feature a variety of emerging technologies, including 3D audio with virtual reality images.

The BBC’s research and development teams will be at the Commonwealth Games, which started yesterday (23 July), to demonstrate and test a number of developments it has been working on at its laboratories in London and at MediaCityUK in Salford.

The highest profile of these is probably Ultra HD but BBC R&D will also be testing virtual reality broadcasting combined with 3D audio, white space devices, the Venue Explorer app that allows users to pan around areas where events are taking place, augmented video as an extension to iPlayer and 4G mobile broadcasts in conjunction with network provider EE.

The virtual reality trial (previous demo pictured) combines existing research by BBC R&D, assisted by UCL (University College London), into 360-degree video and spatial, or 3D, sound. The aim is to create what is described as “the most immersive live virtual reality broadcast to date”. The demonstration from the SSE Hydro Stadium in Glasgow features a panoramic, 360-degree camera, with multi-channel sound giving a sensation of height as well as width and length sourced by a Soundfield microphone.

Live feeds are being sent to an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset in the Glasgow Science Centre. This is designed to give the viewer the sensation of “being transported inside the stadium and being part of the crowd”. The four-capsule Soundfield mic array is being used to captures sound from all directions, which is outputted as a four-channel B-format signal. This is then rendered as a binaural reproduction but with head-related transfer functions so that the person listening on headphone is able to move their head and still receive all the audio information in relation to the images.