French company 3D Sound Labs is showing off a new set of headphones called Neoh. They're a personal 3D sound system capable of reproducing surround sound from any movie. But more than just a 3D virtualisation of the kind we've seen before, the Neoh headphones create something closer to a virtual reality experience.
The headphones work with software which takes the audio feed from a movie, decodes it, and then re-encodes it in a 3D sound engine. From there you'll hear 3D sound similar to virtualised 3D sound.
But what's really remarkable about the Neoh headphones is that when you move your head around, the sound follows the movement of your head as if you were moving your head around wearing an Oculus Rift; the sound suddenly exists in 3D space. It's supposed to be akin to the experience of moving you head around if you're sitting in a cinema.
According to the company founders, this kind of movement is necessary to really sell the psycho acoustics of 3D sound from a set of headphones. In trying it out for a a few moments just now, it definitely works: the sound stays put spatially, even as your head moves. However, I'm not totally sure I'm sold on the psycho-acoustics. Is this really necessary? And could it potentially be just a distracting gimmick?
3D Sound Labs plans to launch crowdfunding for the Neoh headphones this month. Each set of headphones should cost under £200. The company expects to ship product this spring.