- Bell Harbor Conference Center - Seattle, WA, USA - June 13 - 15, 1997
Conference Schedule and Information
Discovery 7
Sunday, June 15, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Session Title: 3D Audio in Virtual Environments
Session Chair: Frank Filipanits
Panelists: Brian McDowell, Microsoft, Redmond, Washington, USA, Martin Walsh, Aureal Semiconductor, Fremont, California, USA, Conrad Maxwell, VLSI Technology, Tempe, Arizona, USA, Theodore Tanner, Jr., Spatializer Audio Laboratories, Mountain View, California, USA

Frank Filipanits: As internet connection bandwidths increase and computing power increases, users are demanding increasingly sophisticated immersion for their virtual environment, whether it be a simple web page, a VRML virtual space, or a game. Sound - particularly 3-D sound - is playing an increasingly important role in this presentation.

Panelists from leading organizations will discuss their current involvement in the field and topics such as software algorithms, hardware acceleration, and interface standards.

Applications of this technology to relevant internet uses will also be addressed: the integration of 3-D audio into VRML environments, and the increasing role of 3-D audio placement in games.

Here is a list of questions/topics that will be used to guide the discussion panel:

  1. How do we evaluate localization systems without objective criteria?
  2. What is the best way to deal with the variations in end-user systems and environment?
  3. Are generalized HRTFs sufficient?
  4. What can be done to minimize image reversals? How important are they?
  5. What is the current state of audio integration with VRML?
  6. How important are visual cues?
  7. How tightly do the visual and audio cues need to track to avoid unpleasant side effects?
  8. The internet has created an emphasis on open specs (HTML, etc.) - can current specs survive, or will a collaborative open spec emerge?
  9. When will we see cross-platform (Mac, Sun, NT as well as 95) support?
  10. What role do add-on sound accelerators play vs. increased host CPU speeds, multiple CPUs?
  11. How does an algorithm scale to the available processing power? What is left out?
  12. Can a consumer/games spec scale to the other end of the spectrum and be suitable for high-end simulation?

Biographies: Frank Filipanits Jr., Brian McDowell, Martin Walsh, Conrad A. Maxwell, Theodore Tanner, Jr.

Frank Filipanits Jr.

Frank Filipanits Jr. became passionately involved in audio while pursuing a BS EE at Caltech. He continued on to earn a M.S. degree in Music Engineering at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, where his Master's research focused on 3-d auralization techniques and optimizations.

Frank is currently exploring audio opportunities with his start-up, Cool Stuff Labs. Recent work includes contributions to DSP plug-ins by Dolby, Liquid Audio, and QSound. During his prior employment at Digidesign, Frank authored several plug-ins including the TEC award-winning DINR 2.0.

Frank maintains his sanity by playing bass in one blues and one rock band, repairing pinball machines, and restoring classic muscle cars.

Brian McDowell

Brian McDowell has been developing proprietary audio technology at Microsoft for the last 5 years. He recently moved into the DirectX team where he is now Program Manager for DirectSound. Brian is currently actively involved in developing the WDM Audio driver model for upcoming releases of Windows and Windows NT operating systems as wells as the new DirectMusic technology. In his ever-so-rare spare time, Brian is also a musician and song writer.

Martin Walsh

MARTIN WALSH was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1971. He studied electronic engineering at the Dublin Institute of Technology between 1989 and 1993. He then began studying methods of designing 3-D surround sound systems for the generic listener in 1993 and has just recently finished a Ph.D. dissertation for this work. He was a visiting research fellow at the National Technical University of Athens in 1994, investigating electronically steerable loudspeaker array directivity. In 1996 he joined Aureal Semiconductor, Fremont, California, where he now works as a 3-D audio research engineer.

Conrad A. Maxwell

Conrad A. Maxwell is currently the Senior Strategic and Product Marketing Manager at VLSI Technology. He is the also the Charmin of the 3D Working Group of the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group sponsored by the MIDI Manufacturers Association. He is actively supporting the foundry of audio products and pushing investment into audio controllers and codec technologies.

He started his career in Sunnyvale in Electronic Design with an Electrical Engineering Degree. After many years in design, he went back to Business School and completed an M.B.A. He plays the keyboard and was attracted to digital audio controllers in order to provide better audio in the PC space.

Theodore Tanner, Jr.

Theodore Tanner, Jr. is currently the Vice President of Engineering at Spatializer Audio Laboratories, Inc. where he directs and participates in the research and development of the companies DSP efforts. He currently sits on the Technical Review Committee for the International Conference on Signal Processing Applications and Technology. He is also the Vice Chairperson for the San Francisco chapter of the AES. Tanner holds an MS in Audio Engineering from the University of Miami. Prior to joining Spatializer, he held DSP engineering positions at National Semiconductor, Crystal River Engineering and Digidesign. He is a member of the AES,IEEE, and ASA.

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