Using sound to transfer some information to people has become an everyday part of society and people's lives. For example, equipment such as train station ticket vending machines, ATMs, and self-service cash registers have audio assists, and announcement sounds can be heard in all kinds of places, such as in buildings, vehicles, and trains.
With visual information, you will not know if there is any information available or not until you look at the information source. On the other hand, one gets noticed the information with sound itself. It also leaves people's hands and eyes free, enabling them to receive information with freedom and convenience.
However, as the use of sound becomes more and more common, the audio information that surrounds us is causing new problems.
These include, sound environment information overload and the sound being perceived as noise. When multiple announcements or messages are heard at the same time, it is not easy to accurately pick up the different sounds from their source, and it would be hard to understand the content and meaning of the sound. The sound information also includes both necessary and unnecessary components, and the importance of the information varies depending on the listener. Therefore, it is becoming difficult to differentiate between these sound information that can be heard and pick out which you need.
Another issue is the reduced privacy by hearable audio information. Other people could hear information that users may not want them to hear.
Furthermore, there are problems with the audio information provided via online meetings and seminars, which have rapidly risen to prominence over the past few years. Online meetings cut away some of the information relayed through in-person face-to-face interaction. Participants must concentrate on listening and understanding what is being conveyed. Often they should be exposed to the sound via speaker equipment or headphones for long periods of time. The listening fatigue which is caused by the long-time online communication would be an important issue in exchanging the information with sounds. Listening to sound in a way that differs from normal listening conditions over long periods of time, would cause feelings of strangeness and fatigue.
In other words, if the use of sound information is to make further progress, we must consider how the sounds surrounding us can be desirably heard so that people can optimally use that sound as an information source.
At Toshiba, we believe that treating those issues that arise when dealing with audio information would require more easily understandable, recognized and pleasing sound and that can be used without worries about bothering others.
This is why we have been focusing on how sound is heard -- that is, how it is presented.
In presenting sound to people, we have attended the component of "whereabouts" to sound itself. Then with simple output environmental conditions, we set the goal as providing sound to people in a better hearing way.
The "whereabouts" of sound refers to the sense of where the sound appears to be, where it is coming from and where it is not located. Reproducing this feeling of sound directionality and location has the potential to make the sound more natural and easier to understand.
We realize these "whereabouts" using the technologies of sound images with controlled stereophony and sound field control for region separation. These technologies are used in our solution, Soundimension Sound with controlled distribution and stereophony.