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1st July, 2020

University project set to transform music production

A ground-breaking project will transform virtual reality by modelling sound as animations that users can actually touch as if they were real and then manipulate them to transform sound.

As part of a £1m project, University of West London (UWL) researchers will be leading the way in the development of haptic technology to define the future of manipulating sound as virtual and extended realities grow beyond the games sector and become a major disruptive force in everyday life.

Haptic technology recreates our sense of touch in the digital world and through its use, UWL researchers are enabling users to touch virtual objects superimposed in their field of view.

As well as feeling the natural weight, friction, momentum and malleability of the virtual creations – users will be able to manipulate the animations with their hands by stretching and twisting shapes to not only realistically change their appearances through physics modelling, but control how different changes can manipulate the sounds.

Professor Justin Paterson, UWL Principal Investigator and Professor of Music Production said:

“The principles of music production have not changed fundamentally in many years. Many novel ways have been developed to create new ways of manipulating sound, but these have often had limited features and been awkward to use.

“Now, using haptic technology, user actions will instantly and intuitively modify the sound, doing away with the need to adjust an array of controls. Such manipulation might be of a sound in isolation or whilst it plays alongside many others, for example an entire music-mix or even a live performance.

“Virtual reality is being overhauled by the promise of extended realities where computer-generated artefacts can be superimposed upon and integrated into the user’s physical space. There are some great existing systems but they are undermined by the lack of that all-pervasive feature of the real world – touch. We are going to change that.”

This ground-breaking work is part of a £1m Innovate-UK ‘Audience of the Future’ programme.

The ‘HAPPIE’ project (Haptic Authoring Pipeline for the Production of Immersive Experiences) will see the development of the next generation of audio-manipulation tools and is being conducted by a consortium comprising of Generic Robotics, Numerion Software, Science Museum Group, Sliced Bread Animation, Open University and UWL.

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