Google Street View allows anyone with an Internet connection to take incredible virtual tours of almost anywhere in the world–now even the high Arctic. But one thing that makes it feel more virtual than realistic is its lack of sound–everywhere you visit appears eerily silent.
A new concept from hearing aid company Amplifon could change that. Sounds of Street View, a digital exploratory sound experiment that lets you hear 3-D audio of whatever environment you’re viewing. It uses the Web Audio API to bring spaces around the world to sonic life, letting you eavesdrop on the sound of a jazz band playing in a park, or the rushing of a fountain, or the bustling of a foreign marketplace.
The sound is 3-D in the sense that it recreates the way the human ear processes sound according to the direction from which it comes: sounds that happen behind you are passed through a filter to sound like they’re coming from behind; sounds from the right play primarily in the right speaker; and sounds from the left play from the left. These sounds shift according to your movements. Un-muting the world of Street View like this feels a bit like stepping from black-and-white into technicolor. Watch and listen in the video above, or check out a live demo here.