Interview with Karlheinz Brandenburg

The future of digital media is about immersive experiences and automated systems that find the content you crave, said Karlheinz Brandenburg, one of the creators of the MP3 format.

The director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology shared his views on topics ranging from digital rights management to wave field audio in a keynote address at the annual technical conference of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. He also talked with EE Times editor at large Rick Merritt in a video following his keynote:

The growth of digital media, wireless networking and connected devices is forcing a sea change in digital media, said Brandenburg. He sketched out scenarios in which systems learn users' preferences and automatically find content they may want.

Automated music recommendations have progressed in last couple years from being not useful at all to being good enough for use, Brandenburg said.

"I see the same thing happening for video," he said. "There are a number of people working on it, but I wouldn't say we have solved the problems," he added.

Brandenburg has been researching wave field audio, an approach for creating immersive audio experiences where sounds can be precisely placed and moved in space. The keynote concluded with a demo at the nearby Mann's Chinese Theater which has just installed a wave field system based on technology from Iosono, a company Brandenburg founded.

The system uses a network of 380 speakers mounted all around the theater to create the impression of as many as 32 virtual audio objects that can be placed and moved anywhere in the room using the company's authoring tools. Iosono hopes to strike a deal soon with a movie studio that will release a major motion picture using its audio format.

"The dream of audio has always been clean quality and the illusion of a virtual room," said Brandenburg.

The technology has already been installed in many theme parks, with movie theaters the next big target. Ultimately, Brandenburg believes wave field could be used for consumer products but it will take breakthroughs in creating low cost speaker arrays, he suggested.

By Rick Merritt, EE Times