New Google Cardboard dev tools bring precise spatial audio to enhance VR experience

When a car is coming your way from the left, your ears know. Google Cardboard may soon be able to imitate that phenomenon thanks to some new tools for developers.

According to the Google Developers Blog, spatial audio is one of the new capabilities in the Cardboard SDK. This feature will allow developers to describe the location of sounds and their environment, so that the audio will "fit in" with the VR scene and users can pinpoint exactly where sounds are coming from, further blending the virtual and real worlds. 

For example, if a plane flies overhead from left to right or a car is honking behind you, the audio will match that sound pattern. This is the type of capability developers can tap into for high-end VR Oculus Rift, so it’s exciting to see this coming to Cardboard.

There’s an Android sample app to try this out, though it’s primarily geared for developers. You’ll need to sideload the APK in order to give it a go.

Why this matters: Google Cardboard is the most exciting effort out there to bring virtual reality to the masses. It’s been embraced by schools for virtual field trips and the New York Times to create more engrossing stories. Cardboard viewers can be had for cheap, or if you’re the enterprising type you can make your own.

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