It wasn’t long ago that the height of sophistication in user generated content was fuzzy mono playback or video with grainy pictures taken on early smartphones and digital stills cameras. Our expectations were very low. Not anymore.
Now we can all record and share life’s moments in hi-definition, on-the-go and in all kinds of environments. The pocket-sized smartphone has liberated the storyteller in us all and social networks have given us the opportunity to share our stories with family and friends, and with an audience of millions over social media.
But as we capture more content, and our smartphones get more sophisticated, there’s a problem. We might be creating beautiful pictures, but the sound is often terrible, even if we have invested in good quality headphones.
Now if the audience for our user generated content hadn’t moved on from the poor audio era perhaps they’d tolerate this. But they have. Today our expectation for good content is hi-definition images with high quality audio – we get that from cable TV as standard and we hear that on our music streaming service. User generated content has some catching up to do. The popularity economics of user generated content is very straight forward – an engaging experience drives shares which builds audience and creators want their work to be seen and to grow their audience. Poor audio costs views and followers or is unsatisfactory for family and nobody wants that.
Now the problem is not the content we’re creating or the story, it’s the technology. No storyteller wants to create a bad experience that no one will watch – they’d keep it to themselves if that was the case. The problem is the typical smartphone we use to create content may have kept pace with innovations in hi-resolution, 4K, and even 360-degree video, but the way they treat audio recording is languishing in the past. Most of even the most sophisticated smartphones are still capturing only mono audio (some stereo at most). It’s no wonder the sound they reproduce is poor, flat, uninspiring and doesn’t match our expectations.
But there’s good news. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Here at Nokia we have been looking at this challenge and how we can help device manufacturers differentiate their devices by transforming the audio experience. But we haven’t limited our ambition to simply improving the quality of the audio these devices can record. We’ve reached way beyond that to develop technology that allows for a much more immersive audio experience that better reflects how we hear sound – spatial audio. Spatial audio uses multiple microphones to record the depth, direction and detail of sound to give the listener a true to life immersive experience that reflects the original event. We don’t hear sound in mono, stereo even, we experience it in 3D and now the technology exists to bring this to content today.
Our spatial audio technology is called OZO Audio. It is an industry-leading solution for capturing high quality and spatial audio, which means we can capture sound that accurately reflects real life. We can even use OZO Audio Focus to amplify sounds in any direction we choose to focus attention on the action.
But our innovation doesn’t stop there. It’s no good simply giving a smartphone the technology to record immersive spatial audio if nobody can see or hear it because you need specialist equipment or it uses proprietary file formats which make it impossible to share. That’s why we designed OZO Audio to support common audio standards like AAC so content can be played on a range of popular devices including smartphones and be shared or posted on existing social media. Not in the future but today.
People looking to create engaging content will love what OZO Audio makes possible. Their viewers will love their work because they’ll feel like they are there in the moment. Spatial audio content will stand head and shoulders above the rest.
You could of course carry on producing content in mono or stereo and try and compete with spatial for the attention of your viewers. But before you do that why not see how much better spatial content is using OZO Audio for yourself? I hope you enjoy our video where you can see how it transforms even the simplest content. Just remember, you heard it here first.
Follow us on @NokiaOzo
Learn more about our spatial audio technology here