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Computer Speakers for Your Ears Only

Microsoft researchers are developing an algorithm that would allow speakers to work like virtual headphones–even as you walk around your office.

More and more people are using their computers for voice communication, such as Skype and audio instant messaging. For the most part, however, using these features requires one either to be tethered to her computer by a headset or to speak directly into a microphone and keep the speaker volume low, especially in shared office space.

In light of that problem, researchers at Microsoft are trying to make audio output more sophisticated. A team, led by Ivan Tashev, a software architect at Microsoft, recently began work on an algorithm that, in theory, will be able to direct sound from a set of speakers–ideally embedded in a computer monitor–into a person’s ears, effectively creating virtual headphones; just a few inches outside the focal point of the sound waves, the volume dramatically fades away. Crucially, says Tashev, his algorithm could be used by a wide range of inexpensive speakers that could be put into computer monitors.

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Microsoft, Research, Computer, Speakers

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