Binaural simulated audio and immersion

27 Feb

As a part of our master thesis, my study partner Jacob and I have decided to continue researching into the benefits of binaural simulated sound (Video Explanation). Within research related to binaural simulated sound, often it is postulated that binaural simulated sound can create a higher level of immersion for players which use this technology, than other types of spatially rendered types of sound (Stereo and mono). We have not been able to find any research backing this up. Additionally, our body responds to various stimuli e.g our heart rate increases when we get scared and our eyes flicker when we hear incoming danger. We also believe that our bodies respond differently, depending on the type of spatial audio you are exposed to. We decided to create a study based on this. Our research questions are:

Do different types of spatial audio:

  • produce different levels of self-reported immersion?
  • affect arousal on a psychophysiological level?

The exact method on how to investigate this question is not completely set yet.

At first, we are required to develop a questionnaire so we can get self-reported levels of immersions. This questionnaire will help us identify whether there are correlation between the measured physiological responses and the self-reported levels of immersion. Before we can do that, we have to select a proper definition of Immersion.

Second, we have to identify which physiological responses we should use. We have been discussing to measure heart rate (HR), skin conductance (SCR), facial muscle tensions (EMG), brain responses (EEG) and perhaps skin temperature. We will have to make sure that the responses we choose measures the responses from two neurophysiological systems, valence and arousal, if we wish to map the responses to an emotion.

Third, we have to develop a experimental setup that allows us to measure both physiological responses as well as levels of immersion. We have decided to create a small horror game, hoping to induce fear into our participants. We expect, the more immersed a player is, the more fear will be induced, the higher is the physiological response and the higher is the level of self-reported immersion.

We will make a system that allows us to switch between the auditory rendering method, so we can switch freely between binaurally simulated, stereo and mono audio. Our game makes use of the Oculus Rift DK2 and uses its head rotation as the only player input. No keyboard or mouse. This allows us to strap our participants into wires and devices, without fearing they will rip them off.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 20.45.23

There are still plenty of unknowns in our study, and the field of psychophysiology is a new field for us. We hope to perform a multitude of experiments, so we can iterate and create better experiments by each iteration. We still have until the end of May, and I’ll create a post when the time comes about our results

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