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Usability Issues in Listening to Natural Sounds with an Augmented Reality Audio Headset

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In augmented reality audio (ARA) applications, the natural sound environment is enriched with the addition of virtual sounds, and both are presented to the listener over headphones. A typical configuration has microphones outside of the headphones, and these signals are combined with a virtual source rendering of other sources. However, for listeners to be comfortable being immersed in an ARA space, the sound of the environment should be unchanged by the system, especially localizing sound cues that warn of potential danger. Subjects will only wear an ARA system for extended intervals if it does not disturb normal functioning. Other social issues need to be addressed, such as signaling that normal dialogue is possible even when there is visual indication of headphones, which are expected to block environmental sound.

JAES Volume 57 Issue 6 pp. 430-441; June 2009
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AES - Audio Engineering Society