The NAB Show is the largest media, entertainment and technology show in the world. With 1,700 exhibitors and 100,000 attendees, it is one of the most important events for those who need to know the latest technology trends and innovations in professional content. We were here again this year, this time to showcase Nokia OZO Audio and how spatial audio will play a key part in device innovation.
What was striking this year was how the NAB Show is now attracting attention past its traditional professional broadcast focus. This year, visitors experienced an exciting mix of innovation in user generated content, VR, AI, 5G, and IoT-enabled devices on top of the normal fare of what's new in broadcast.
But there is another change taking place. Consumers expectations are increasingly demanding when it comes to the audio they capture and playback through devices.
Consumers won’t tolerate poor music streaming, so why do manufacturers think they’ll put up with poor audio in user generated content (UGC) like podcasts and video streaming? Let’s not forget that online video is big business too – consumption in the U.S. is expected to surpass 232 million by 2020. So, manufacturers are motivated to enable a great quality production experience in their devices and content producers (including those creating UGC) are beginning to take note too and are increasing their production standards and that includes audio.
This is where we step in. OZO Audio is our industry leading solution for capturing high-definition and spatial audio and enabling playback on a range of popular consumer devices including smartphones, cameras and on UGC streaming services such as YouTube and Facebook.
This need for significantly better and even spatial audio capture and playback is beginning to be recognized by the industry. But from our conversations with journalists, analysts and customers at the event, there is a need for even greater differentiation; to be able to make content even more immersive.
OZO Focus is how we do this – allowing users to select the sound that matters. On devices with three or more microphones, users can use OZO Focus to prioritize the sound they want to feature. They can select a specific area or the behind-the-camera commentary and prioritize it over ambient sounds that distract or overpower the narrator’s voice. OZO Focus gives the user complete control of the audio they capture, allowing them to adjust the azimuth, elevation, sector width and height, and to adjust them dynamically during recording. You can also control the intensity of the audio focus to capture precise sounds or the wider environment.
OZO Focus also enables audio zoom: intelligent audio zooming that allows the user to dynamically adjust audio focus to the area of zoomed video. As the picture zooms in on the subject, so can the audio. OZO Focus isn’t just for capturing audio, as viewers can also select and adjust audio focus capabilities during playback. They can adjust the audio focus to a specific part of the screen. With a simple touch user interface the viewer can create a personalized visual and audio experience.
If device makers really want to be able to differentiate themselves, then adopting spatial audio and audio zoom and focus is a must to enable a whole new level of immersive audio.
But innovation is not limited to the device. There is something much more technical going on. Creating high-quality content of the kind NAB showcases brings another challenge: the files being created are getting larger and more demanding on device and network resources.
So, it was great to get the opportunity to also show the role the High Efficiency Image File format and its file compression containers will play here in making, saving and sharing of ever complex (and large) media files easier. HEIF is a file format and container that radically improves how we store, manage and share content by enriching images with data.
As well as being one of the founding contributors to the HEIF standard, Nokia is helping manufacturers to implement the HEIF standard to transform the performance of their devices. With 53% of consumers globally sharing pictures and videos with mobile devices (and ever growing numbers of professional producers too, particularly in news broadcasting), this is an area worthy of significant attention too.
It is great to hear audio getting the attention it deserves in the industry, and start to see consumer expectations and concerns here being addressed. If NAB is an indicator of the wider industry conversation, we can expect to see many more device makers placing a higher priority on audio to meet the demands of today’s consumers.
Learn more about our spatial audio technology here
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