Keynotes and Panels

2020 AES International Conference on Audio for Virtual and Augmented Reality

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Featured Panel Discussion:

Monday, August 17:  VALVE Audio Team

Featured Keynote Speakers:

Tuesday, August 18:  Varun Nair

Wednesday, August 19:  Poppy Crum




When Worlds Collide: Audio Development of the Valve Index and Half:Life Alyx

Emily Ridgway and the VALVE Audio Team



New Audio Realities At Scale

Varun Nair, Facebook

What does it take to ship new audio technology at a scale of billions of people? What does it take to productize great research and make it available in products? How can the bleeding edge find impact? The last 1% takes 99% of effort and time. Often the biggest technology blockers are found when scaling solutions that work for many people. The last mile is where a lot of innovation happens. This talk is part retrospective and part future looking on what it takes to create compelling audio technologies and experiences for AR and VR. We'll deep-dive into lessons learned in shipping products over the years and use that as a marker to understand what the future looks like and what needs to be done to improve the state of audio for AR and VR.

Varun has spent the past 15 years with audio, working on hundreds of projects — including software development, product management, media post-production and interactive content production. He co-founded Two Big Ears and led development of audio tools and technology for VR, AR and emerging immersive media. Two Big Ears was acquired by Facebook in 2016, where he currently leads the AR/VR audio software team working on algorithms, tools, spatial audio technology and scalable audio systems across a wide range of software and hardware products.




Empathetic technology and embodied user experience

Poppy Crum, Dolby


Dr. Poppy Crum is Chief Scientist at Dolby Laboratories. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University in the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics and the Program in Symbolic Systems. At Dolby, Poppy directs the growth of internal science. She is responsible for integrating neuroscience and sensory data science into algorithm design, technological development, and technology strategy. At Stanford, her work focuses on the impact and feedback potential of new technologies including gaming and immersive environments such as Augmented and Virtual Reality on neuroplasticity and learning. Poppy is a U.S. vice-chair to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) member of the Stanford Research Institute Technical Council, and Consumer Technology Association Board of Industry Leaders. Prior to joining Dolby Laboratories Poppy was Research Faculty in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where her neurophysiological research focused on understanding the neural correlates of how we hear in a complex acoustic environment and the functional circuitry of the auditory cortex. Poppy is a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society. She is a: 2018 recipient of the Advanced Imaging Society’s Distinguished Leadership Award, a 2017 recipient of the Consumer Technology Association’s Technology and Standards Achievement Award for work towards the introduction of over-the-counter hearing-aid devices, and has been named to Billboard Magazine’s 100 most influential female executives in the music industry. She is a frequent speaker including, TED, SXSW, IEEE, TNW, WIRED, on topics related to the intersection of: human experience, artificial intelligence, sensory data-science, and immersive technologies.


AES - Audio Engineering Society