YOUR VOICE ISN'T HERE -- IT'S THERE
In the worlds of virtual reality nothing is what it was. Take your
voice. You have been living with your voice all your life. You think you
know it. You speak and the sound comes from your larynx.
Almost everyone matches a face with a voice. Sometimes the visuallyimpaired and radio personalities create an imaginary persona. Almost
always, the imagined is different from the reality. The change may
When you speak, the voice you hear may not come from your lips but
from the back of the auditorium, from inside the ceiling, the walls, the
floor or from inside a drum!
Welcome to the unreal world of acoustical virtual reality. Because of
the minimum amount of equipment now necessary to create such cyberspace
and the accompanying lower cost of sound equipment, this may be the
first VR to hit the marketplace before the totally-encompassing world
of full VR comes to Main Street.
As the "Marco Polo of VR" (another writer's words, not mine), I have
been travelling to new cyberspace during recent months. Earlier columns
described the Parallel Universe in Calgary (where you can play a golf
course before it's built), and the Human Interface Technology Lab in
Seattle (where you can fly around the Space Needle without leaving the
ground or dive into the sea without getting wet), demonstrated these new
wonders that will be introducing us all into the 21st century.
A young man named Bo Behring, earlier from Los Angeles, whom I
recently visited at his Toronto studio, is the creator of this startling
new sound system. "The Focal Point 3D Audio system takes any sound and
processes it to generate signals for each ear. It's a cursor for the
sound," he explains. "It's the same sound as before, but built into it
is new information to make the brain think it's coming from a new
Just as a computer screen cursor can be moved around, by keying in
commands, with a mouse or a voice navigator, Focal Point lets the
performer, or whoever is directing the production, move sound around,
over, under, in front of, inside, behind or above an audience. You have
to experience it to believe it. Then you are hooked. You have entered
the first room in the cyberdelic playhouse.
Imagine a sultry singer crooning a seductive ballad. She looks, then
points directly at your head. The sound, both to the person selected as
well as to the rest of the audience, comes from inside your head! Or a
hip-throbbing dancer tosses her body in multiple directions. The sound
bounces off the nearest wall in direct line with her hip movements. And,
that's just the kindergarten class. Ever since living with the
voodooists in Haiti for two years trying to understand some of their
"magic", I have been intrigued by their uncanny ability to use sound to
make anyone in an audience react in ways beyond their control. The
voodooists can actually create an orgasm within a spectator with only
the powerful, hypnotic sound from their drums.
One saying from the industrial age is that "Information is Power".
Today that belief is widely accepted. Now, it becomes power in a new
dimension: the ability to move sound so it appears to emanate from
wherever the performer desires. Ventriloquists will be appearing on
welfare rolls. For others, who learn how to dance with these acoustical
electrons, a much brighter future is about to unfold.
Bo Behring is one of many new Thomas Edison's who will emerge creating
worlds that people have never experienced before.
Bo Gehring, President,
189 Madison Ave.,
Toronto, Ont. M5R 2S6.
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