Samsung and Google challenge Dolby Atmos with new IAMF 3D spatial audio technology
The most advertised feature in home audio products today, be it TVs, soundbars or any kind of sound systems, is 3D spatial audio, and Dolby’s Atmos is undoubtedly the current reigning king of immersive audio standards. However, Samsung, in partnership with Google, has just created IAMF (Immersive Audio Model and Formats), an open source spatial audio standard that could prove to be a major rival to Dolby’s popular but proprietary one.
IAMF has been developed with the goal of effectively delivering high quality immersive audio content to TVs, soundbars and speaker systems. It does so through three important features: vertical audio, AI-based audio and customised audio. Vertical audio, already found in Dolby Atmos, is essentially the addition of height-based or overhead audio channels to better create a sphere of sound around the listener.
The second feature is “AI-based scene analysis”, i.e. using AI and deep-learning technology to analyse scenes and emphasise certain aspects of the content like the dialogue or background score, so that the listener doesn’t have to adjust audio level or EQ settings manually. This also includes sound optimisation based on the device’s acoustic environment or the room dynamics.
Lastly, IAMF will also allow users to customise their audio experience by choosing to emphasise certain parts of the content, for example, by adjusting the level of the game sounds against the commentary while watching sports.
IAMF is the first open source audio standard adopted by the Alliance for Open Media, and with content-creation becoming more widespread, Samsung believes it could play an important role as the single industry-wide open source framework for 3D audio creation, delivery and playback. Samsung’s research team says it is now working to expand the applications of IAMF to include “mobile devices, the metaverse, video games and more”.