Virtual Reality (VR) systems have progressed from primarily laboratory experiments into serious and valuable tools. Thereby, the amount of useful applications has grown in a large scale, covering conventional use, e.g., in science, design, medicine and engineering. For many applications, though, VR-systems should feature more than one modality in order to boost the range of applications. In a joint project between computer scientists and acousticians, a CAVE-like immersive environment has been created at RWTH Aachen University that comprises state-of-the-art visualization and auralization with almost no constraints on user interaction.

This talk gives an overview on the acoustics aspects of this virtual reality system. This includes the simulation of room acoustics, sound reproduction to the user and the required signal processing. The real-time auralization engine enables a physically accurate simulation of sound propagation, including important wave effects such as sound scattering, airborne sound insulation between rooms and sound diffraction. Binaural synthesis is used to create a spatial sound playback. Audio rendering with long room impulse responses is achieved by highly parallelized non-uniformly partitioned convolutions. A dynamic crosstalk cancellation system allows to playback the binaural signals to the user without the need of headphones. In order to handle the significant computational complexity, the computation is distributed on a PC-cluster, that drives the simulation in real-time even for huge audio-visual scenarios. Several examples of applications are presented in the talk.

Frank Wefers received a diploma degree in computer science from RWTH Aachen university, Germany in 2007. Afterwards he joined the virtual acoustics workgroup at the Institute of Technical Acoustics (ITA) at RWTH Aachen, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. His research activities are in the fields of real-time signal processing and acoustic simulation techniques in combination with high-performance computing.

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