Sound design in Social VR
Research • Prototyping • User testing • Iterating
Companies and content creators have mostly focused on the visual side of VR. However, sound has the ability to improve the immersivity and perceived quality of a visual display and virtual simulation in general. In Social VR, it is especially important to be immersed.

The purpose of my graduation project was to evaluate current implementations of the sound experience in Social VR and to improve that experience through user testing.
Social VR is a way of communicating with other people through Virtual Reality (VR) by integrating participants in the same environment and enabling them to interact with each other. This graduation project focused on the design of an immersive sound experience during a Social VR session between friends watching TV together.

The video above is a short display of the possibilities with the final prototype made for the project. Wearing headphones would be preferred.
The report can be read here or downloaded.

Research

A literature research was done, Social VR demos were tested, questionnaires were made, and two prototypes were developed and tested.

The first prototype was made for a basic and passive Social VR experience. I made it for WebVR using A-Frame and Resonance Audio.

The second one was a more advanced prototype in which two users could speak with each other, watch TV, interact with buttons and see each other’s avatar. I developped it in Unity, for which I wrote some scripts in C# and used the Resonance Audio plugin.

Main findings



Sitting area where the two users could sit in VR. The buttons on the tables beside the chairs act as a remote control for the sound experience.



View of the TV playing one of the three short documentaries available.



Screenshot of the sound implementation in Unity using Resonance Audio, displaying the various sound sources for the TV.
This resulted in a home cinema experience.