Sonar Sound Studio


The podcast industry is a multi-billion dollar market that has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade. In the United States alone, there are an estimated 120 million podcast listeners in 2021 and is forecasted to continue growing year over year. This phenomenon speaks to the importance of podcasting in American media culture.

Podcast content is incredibly diverse. This “playground” of audio content paired with the capabilities provided by the industry leader in audio technology and experiences inspired the Sonar Sound Studio.

With the emergence of the metaverse, the nature of how people engage with one another is being reshaped. We wanted to bring the communal and informative characteristics of podcasting to the future of the web in a truly immersive and innovative way.

What it does

This is an introduction to podcasting in the metaverse. Imagine that there is no longer a need to book a flight or drive hours down the road to participate on a show. This puts the power of a podcast studio right into your headset. Say goodbye to expensive equipment purchases, studio rentals, and travel fees. You can now "dial in" from anywhere and participate in person. It allows both the host and the guest instant ease of access and easy participation.

## How we built it This app is built in Unity game engine using both C# and JavaScript. It incorporates WebXR and uses the Dolby Communications API.

Challenges we ran into

We are a small team of just 2 people. One team member is more of a programming “wizard” while the other is more of a novice. While the programming skills were of different levels, the inverse was the case when it came to 3D visual and asset development. The project’s contributions were essentially split between programmatic development and 3D design.

Initially, we tried keeping the project pretty lightweight and by using a library called StereoKit. There were a number of challenges when it came to networking and making it accessible to multiple parties at once and so we went back to square one and decided to rebuild in Unity. Another big challenge was the inverse kinematics on the avatar. A full body solution was the aim and it was nearly achieved. We had a body that capable of walking and calculating how to take steps that connected with the ground, but the hands were disjointed, so scaled back to a floating torso model with accurate hand and arm movements. Finally, there were several compatibility issues between a Unity oriented application and the JavaScript interface provided by the Dolby API. Although there were REST endpoints, it did not seem as if they had all the same capabilities as the JavaScript library.

## Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud of seeing our vision come to life and making something that we believe will have a social impact. We want to see people come together especially in times like now and be able to do that safely. We've taken an existing pastime and brought it to the future of digital experiences. This is something that we truly believe will help people create content in more engaging ways with virtually no startup cost.

--- ## What we learned

We learned how to do networking in unity which is exciting on its own, but more significantly how to bring people together in VR. We learned how to develop code that provides an a truly immersive experience. We also learned how to how to transmit audio in XR using Dolby’s technology!

## What's next for Sonar Podcast

We want to make transform the way podcasts are made and make the power of a podcast studio more accessible to everyone. In our continued development we want to make more environments available and add customization to the avatars for more personalized experience. We will work on greater networking capability so that large parties will be able to assemble and communicate with quality audio. Our plan is to make recording a virtual show as easy as one click to record, one click to publish.

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