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The Accuracy of Localizing Virtual Sound Sources: Effects of Pointing Method and Visual Environment

The ability to localize sound sources in 3D-space was tested in humans. The subjects listened to noises filtered with subject-specific head-related transfer functions. In the experiment using naïve subjects, the conditions included the type of visual environment (darkness or structured virtual world) presented via head mounted display and pointing method (head and manual pointing). The results show that the errors in the horizontal dimension were smaller when head pointing was used. Manual pointing showed smaller errors in the vertical dimension. Generally, the effect of pointing method was significant but small. The presence of structured virtual visual environment significantly improved the localization accuracy in all conditions. This supports the benefit of using a visual virtual environment in acoustic tasks like sound localization.

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