Valve today announced the Steam Audio SDK, a spatial audio plugin that the company says is made is designed to “enhance all interactive products, specifically VR applications.” The company has launched a beta of the SDK today supporting Unity, and support for Unreal Engine is on the way.
Realistic sound is an important but often underappreciated aspect of the immersion equation in VR. Basic stereo output works well enough for gaming on monitors, where the world is abstracted away from an immersive first-person view. But when your eyes are convinced they’re inside the game thanks to VR, your brains has certain expectations for how the world around you should sound. Our brain literally uses audio cues to understand spatial information, especially about what’s not currently in our line-of-site.