Real-Time Interpolation of Impulse Responses in Dynamic Virtual Environments

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PhD Classic Doctoral Training Grant Funding Information 

This funding model includes a 36 month fully funded PhD Studentship, in-line with the Research Council values, which comprises a tax-free stipend paid monthly (2024/5 - £19,237) per year and a Full Time Fee Scholarship for up to 3 years, subject to you making satisfactory progression within your PhD. 

All applicants will receive the same stipend irrespective of fee status.

Application Closing Date: 

23:59 on Tuesday 30th April 2024 for a start date of the 2nd September 2024.

How to Apply 

To apply, please complete the project proposal form,ensuring that you quote the project reference, and then complete the online application where you will be required to upload your proposal in place of a personal statement as a pdf document. 

You will also be required to upload two references, at least one being an academic reference, and your qualification/s of entry (Bachelor/Masters certificate/s and transcript/s).  

Project Title: Real-Time Interpolation of Impulse Responses in Dynamic Virtual Environments

Project Lead: Dr Carlo Harvey

Reference: 9 RAVE

Project Description

This research project aims to improve the audio experience in video games, simulations, and other virtual environments. Currently, when you move from one environment to another, the audio cues and filters often don't match, causing a jarring and unrealistic transition. Imagine playing a game where the sound changes abruptly as you move from a forest to a cave, ruining the immersive experience.

The goal of this project is to develop a solution that can seamlessly adjust the audio to match the environment you're in. It will use advanced techniques to analyse the surroundings, including objects, walls, and other materials, and apply the appropriate audio effects like echoes and reflections to make it sound more realistic. For example, if you're walking in a virtual forest and enter a cave, the audio will smoothly adapt to make you feel like you're truly inside the cave, with the appropriate echoes and reverberations.

This research is important because audio plays a crucial role in creating an immersive virtual experience. By improving the audio transitions, the project aims to make games and simulations more engaging, realistic, and enjoyable. Imagine being fully immersed in a virtual world where the audio matches what you see, making it feel more real and exciting.

This project involves collaboration between different fields, including computer science, audio engineering, and human-computer interaction. By bringing together expertise from these areas, the team hope to develop innovative techniques using artificial intelligence and advanced algorithms to enhance the audio experience in real-time.

Anticipated Findings and Contribution to Knowledge 

The anticipated research findings will contribute to new knowledge by developing novel techniques and approaches for real-time interpolation of impulse responses using neural networks in dynamic 3D scenes. The research aims to address the challenges of providing accurate and immersive audio experiences in virtual environments with changing filters due to transitions between different spatial environments.

The anticipated findings will demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of using neural networks to dynamically adjust audio cues and filters in real time, accounting for dynamic objects, occlusions, reflections, and semantic materials within the 3D space. This will enable seamless and realistic audio rendering as users navigate virtual environments.

Expected outcomes:

  • Development of a novel neural network-based framework for real-time interpolation and synthesis of IRs in dynamic 3D scenes.
  • Demonstration of improved efficiency and accuracy compared to existing interpolation methods.
  • Insights into the trade-offs between computational complexity, network architectures, and audio quality.
  • Contribution to the field of spatial audio rendering for virtual reality, augmented reality, and interactive gaming applications.
  • Publication of research findings in peer-reviewed conferences and journals.
  • Open-source implementation and availability of the developed framework for the research community.

To categorise the impact of the anticipated findings we consider the application domains. In gaming, the realistic and dynamic audio rendering enabled by this research can greatly enhance the immersive experience for players. It can provide more accurate spatial audio cues, enabling players to locate and identify sounds within the virtual environment, which can greatly enhance gameplay and immersion. In simulations and training scenarios, realistic audio rendering is crucial for creating immersive and effective training experiences.

By accurately representing the acoustic characteristics of different environments and simulating realistic audio interactions, this research can enhance the training effectiveness and help users develop critical skills in a virtual setting. Furthermore, the impact of this research extends to areas such as virtual architectural walkthroughs, virtual meetings and collaborations, and virtual reality-based therapies. By providing realistic and dynamic audio rendering, users can experience a more immersive and engaging environment, enhancing the effectiveness of architectural presentations, remote collaborations, teleconferencing, metaverse co-working and therapeutic interventions.

Person Specification

Essential Qualifications:

  • BSc/MSc in Computer Science, Audio Engineering, or related field.
  • Strong programming skills (C++, Python, or similar).
  • Experience in digital signal processing or acoustics.
  • Demonstrable interest in virtual environments and audio technology.

Desirable Skills:

  • Prior research experience or publications.
  • Knowledge of real-time audio processing.
  • Experience with virtual reality or game development platforms (e.g., Unity, Unreal Engine).

Personal Attributes:

  • Analytical mindset.
  • Creative problem-solving skills.
  • Excellent communication and teamwork abilities.
  • Self-motivated and capable of independent research.