© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Clubhouse app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken on July 13, 2021. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration
By Sheila Dang
(Reuters) – Clubhouse, an audio-only chat app, said on Sunday that it will launch a spatial audio feature to make voices sound like they’re coming from different directions, helping to make conversations and virtual performances feel more realistic.
The app, which is backed by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, fueled the social audio trend last year and became known to thousands of chat rooms including CEOs and celebrities. However, it faces increasing competition from the biggest tech giants like Facebook (NASDAQ :), Twitter (NYSE :), and Spotify (NYSE :), which have introduced their own social audio chat features.
The new surround sound-like feature will help Clubhouse lean towards the show and entertainment venues that have proliferated in the app.
Depending on how many speakers are in a clubhouse room and a variety of other factors, the app’s technology will assign users spatial positioning so that the listener hears the voices around them on their headphones, said Justin Uberti, director. of Clubhouse broadcast technology. .
In comedy rooms, for example, Clubhouse technology will detect the keynote speaker and place that person’s voice in the ‘front’, while other people’s laughter might sound like it’s coming from the listener’s left and right side, said.
“I could hear people laughing and the room explodes around me,” Uberti said. “You can imagine in music … there is a lot of potential.”
Space technology also makes it easier to detect when different users are speaking, while people previously might have to pay attention to speaker cadence and vocal timbre, he added.
Clubhouse, which started as a guest-only app and recently opened to all users, said more than 700,000 rooms are now created each day, up from 300,000 in May.
Spatial audio will roll out first to iOS users and then Android users shortly thereafter, Clubhouse said.
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