Methods and applications of mobile audio augmented reality

Robert Albrecht

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


In augmented reality, virtual objects are presented as if they were a part of the real world. In mobile audio augmented reality, sounds presented with headphones are perceived as if they originated from the surrounding environment. This thesis investigates potential applications of mobile audio augmented reality and different methods that are needed in these applications. The two main topics studied are distance presentation and spatial audio guidance. Reverberation is known to be an important factor affecting the perceived distance of sound sources. Here, a practical method for modifying the perceived distance of virtual sound sources is investigated, where the temporal envelopes of binaural room impulse responses (BRIRs) are modified. In a listening test, speech sources were presented using these modified BRIRs. The results show that the perceived distance is controlled most effectively by modifying an early-to-late energy ratio with the first 50–100 ms of the BRIR included in the early energy.Presenting large distances in an audio augmented reality environment is difficult, since people underestimate the distances of distant sound sources and very distant sound sources cannot even be heard. In a user study, the presentation of points of interest (POIs) outdoors using auditory distance cues was compared with a voice saying the distance in meters. The results suggest that distances should be given in meters if fairly accurate distance estimates are needed without prior training. With training, however, the user study participants were able to estimate the distances of the POIs fairly accurately based on the provided auditory distance cues, performing the task faster than when the distances were presented in meters. In addition to the presentation of POIs, another type of spatial audio guidance is investigated: using spatialized music to guide pedestrians and cyclists to their destination. Two forms of guidance, route and beacon guidance, were tested in different environments. The user studies showed that music guidance is a pleasant and effective aid for navigation. Both route and beacon guidance were effective methods, but suitable for different environments and circumstances.This thesis also investigates a mobile teleconferencing scenario, where participants can move freely from one location to another. With hear-through headphones, co-located participants can hear each other naturally. To avoid transmitting the speech of the participants to other participants in the same room – as this would be perceived as an echo – acoustic co-location detection is applied. In a user study, utilization of acoustic co-location detection was shown to improve the clarity of communication. Together, the studies presented in this thesis provide methods and guidelines for the development of mobile audio augmented reality applications.
Translated title of the contributionMethods and applications of mobile audio augmented reality
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Lokki, Tapio, Supervising Professor
  • Lokki, Tapio, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-6875-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-6876-3
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • audio augmented reality
  • spatial audio
  • auditory distance perception
  • guidance
  • navigation
  • communication


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