Dolby brings theater sound to new-age gadgets
Dolby Laboratories is out to make sure people's ears are as delighted as their eyes in a world enthralled by high-definition televisions and entertainment on the go.
The Britain-founded, California-based audio technology pioneer used the premier Consumer Electronics Show to debut innovations aimed at making sound rich and realistic in new-generation film, music, and videogame devices.
"We are in a year of change when it comes to entertainment," said Dolby consumer technology marketing director Craig Eggers.
"In the past, entertainment has been living room based. We are seeing more and more entertainment available -- not only in the home but on the go."
Dolby unveiled software created to bring immersive audio to anything from home theaters to laptop computers or music-playing mobile telephones.
"We see the market evolving into big screens at home; middle screens in netbook or laptop computers, and small screens in cell phones or MP3 players," Eggers told AFP.
"Our theme is how Dolby can enhance all different ways we can enjoy our entertainment and all the ways we get entertainment."
Dolby Volume was developed to address a complaint seeming as old as television itself; that shows on screens seem to whisper while commercials shout despite being on the same volume settings.
Volume inconsistencies can also occur when compact disks are switched in players or between music files in MP3 devices.
"One of the biggest complaints consumers have had is volume inconsistencies," Eggers said.
"We solved that problem. Dolby Volume gives us the capability to choose our favourite volume level for all media then set aside the remote and never touch it again."
The technology is being built into Toshiba televisions and car audio products this year, according to Dolby.
The company also showed off Dolby True HD, which is being built into Blu-ray high definition video players and disks to deliver sound tracks as immersive as the imagery.
"A person with a Blu-ray player can literally hear the same quality heard in the studio when they were mixing the audio; the same quality as is on the master tapes," Eggers said.
Dolby also developed a Digital Plus audio technology to bring "surround-sound" to online films and other content delivered to televisions that are being built with "widgets" linking them to online services.
France, Italy and Poland have adopted Dolby Digital Plus as a standard for high-definition audio in televisions, according to the company.
Dolby also has put technology in headphones that provide stereo surround-sound experiences to people playing films or music on computers, MP3 players or mobile telephones.
Dolby Axon in headsets for videogame lovers gives positional feedback to people talking to each other while playing together online by making voices sound as though they are coming from where virtual characters happen to be.
Voices get louder as gamers approach one another, and fainter with distance, according to Dolby. Like in life, sounds made by on-screen characters are obstructed by objects in the game.
"As a gamer, I can tell you it comes in pretty handy to be able to hear your enemies footsteps coming up behind you," said Eggers, evidently a fan of shooter titles.
(c) 2010 AFP