Virtual reality for your ears – Binaural sound

What’s the difference between spatial audio and binaural sound?

Spatial audio is when you listen to 3D sound on a loudspeaker it also includes listening to 3D sound on some headphones. But if listen to 3D sound on just headphones it is referred to as binaural sound.

Here are some examples, wear your headphones!

Rob Da Bank’s headphone special – Recorded in 3D.

BBC Proms recorded in binaural sound.

How is this 3D sound created?

This video by The Verge explains:

Example of object based audio

Object based audio is one way spatial audio is used in media. Here’s an example: The audio “objects”, individual actors, spot effects and atmos mics, are fed to the home as one continuous data stream. The producer has decided during the mix where each object is to be placed around the listener.

Why use it?

Immersion, the listener is brought further in to the heart of the story, and triggering greater thrills and connections to the scene. This drags the listener in and if used with video is even more effective. We hear a great deal with our eyes! Get actors to look off screen behind the viewer and place a sound behind them, and the binaural effect is very powerful.

“Binaural audio has grown in popularity due to one huge thing VR, Virtual Reality”


Demystifying Mixed Reality

Mixed reality is the result of blending the real world with the digital world to produce new environments and visuals.

The key term for mixed reality, or MR, is flexibility. It tries to combine the best aspects of both VR and AR.

There are various MR headsets one of which is Microsoft HoloLens. This is an example of how it can be used within education, An Evolution for Education.

The Untold Story of Magic Leap, this example is a startup experimenting with what MR could be capable of.

MR is in its early stages. However, it’s not impossible to imagine a future where this content will be able to react to and even interact with the real world in some way.

Mixed Reality

Can provide a much more engaging experience for students.

360/VR/AR What’s the difference?

360 video offers a spherical view of the world. During playback the viewer has control of the viewing direction.

Virtual Reality (VR) places the user inside an experience, which can be viewed using a headset. The cheaper headsets include Google Cardboard, Google Daydream and Samsung Gear. The expensive ones are Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

Augmented Reality (AR) is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. Unlike VR, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.

Apps to try out:



NYT VR – New York Times

BBC Taster VR




IKEA Place

I have been involved in creating a VR experience for Studio Directing. You can come along to the BBC’s Blue Room at The Mailbox in Birmingham, and try it out on the Oculus Rift, or try the online version:

Then there is Mixed Reality (MR) which we’ll cover in another blog post.

The 20 Habits of Truly Brilliant Presenters

I’m due to present at the CIPD conference on Thursday. I haven’t presented to such a large number before, so I’ve been doing some research on presenting. I’d like to share with you the 20 habits of truly brilliant presenters created by Citrix.

The brain and stage fright

It always starts with a thought:

  • I’ll forget what I want to say
  • The audience will be bored
  • They will see I’m nervous
  • They won’t like me, believe me or agree with me
  • They will ask me questions I don’t know the answers to

The 20 Habits of Truly Brilliant Presenters

Habit 1: They acknowledge and reframe, it’s ok to be nervous, nerves are normal and it is a conversation

Habit 2: They focus on the audience

Habit 3: They don’t try to be perfect

Habit 4: They stick to the point

Habit 5: They see the opportunity, great presenters see the presentation as an opportunity to help their audience and add value to their personal or professional lives.

Habit 6: They anchor themselves, simply recalling a time you felt happy, confident, calm and relaxed

Habit 7: They practice

Habit 8: They tell stories

Habit 9: They use colourful, creative and compelling images

Habit 10: They involve their audience

Habit 11: They use videos and props

Habit 12: They use their voice by varying the pitch, tone, volume and pace.

Habit 13: They stay in the present. Sit back and focus your attention on your breath by feeling the sensation of each breath that you take in and the experience of letting each breath go.

Habit 14: They know how to make friends

Habit 15: They know what they’re talking about

Habit 16: They are consistent

Habit 17: They are generous. As a speaker, you have a wealth of gifts to share generously, your passion, energy, undivided attention, smile, eye contact etc.

Habit 18: They help them to see the contrast

Habit 19: They give them good reason

Habit 20: They give them hope

Wish me luck

Gadget Show Live 2015

I attended The Gadget Show Live. There were a lot of drones, great for videos that we’re creating for our learning programmes. Go Pro cameras, which we have recently purchased for filming in the team. We’re looking at creating a video channel with engineer recorded footage.

A lot of talk about Smart watches, not so many early adopters as yet. But, you need a phone as well as a watch! Also culturally it’s rude to look at your watch whilst talking to someone.

Smart glasses were demoed, Google Glass has been phased out. The Epson Moverio looks awesome. My team at HomeServe are currently experimenting with Google Cardboard. Virtual learning with our engineer population would be good.

3D printers are more readily available, not too sure on how to utilise one currently. Apart from creating 3D houses as our business is a home assistance company.

A few companies offering motion sensors to create a smart home. Similar to Hive. Homeserve are experimenting with the Tado system,

Did anyone else attend the show this year? Your thoughts about the show?

Recording voiceover for an e-learning course

I have been recording some podcasts for a leadership programme. One of the modules was Giving Feedback.

In order to record the voiceover I used Recordium on the iPad, the free version (sound quality was good, in comparison to the microphone attached to my laptop), and converted the mp4 file to an mp3 using, it was then edited using Audacity (free sound editing software).

Any free audio recording or editing software that you’d like to share?

Clear desk interaction

Today I’d like to share the creation of an activity to highlight a clear desk policy.

This is a simple photograph of a messy office desk.


Converted into a cartoon using


Using Photoshop I cut out the individual items, like the monitor and drawer etc. Then using storyline 1 I inserted the individual items and changed the states of them. When the learner hovers, the item get’s enlarged. When clicked, a trigger takes them to a layer of information and then the item becomes green when visited.

End result is the following image:

desk final

I can enhance this by adding a score, allowing the learner to earn points, by selecting the correct items that might lead to an information security breach. In order to make it difficult, I would not have an enlarge item state when the learner hovers, and get the learner to think what the correct answers might be.

Training Initiatives should be created as Learning Campaigns

A Learning Campaign could consist of key messages being delivered via:

Cloud 2

Blogs, E-mails, Face to face delivery, Online webcasts, Recordings of offline presentations, Posters, E-books, Screen saver, Video, Animation, Virtual classroom, Competitions, Themed informal events, Surveys, Quizzes, Top-up tests, E-learning modules.

You could add a social dimension, with discussion and sharing of useful knowledge.

Good campaigns have good stories that form a connection with the learner.

Have any of you created a Learning Campaign? Was it deployed over weeks, months or years? What was your experience?

Good stories – great e-learning

Scenario based learning is a term that has been used significantly to enhance the learning experience.

Stories always capture the audience.

Seven basic stories
The quest
The tragedy
The comedy
The rebirth
Overcoming the monster
Voyage and return
Rags to riches

A story always has a Beginning, Middle and End

Beginning – The context is set for the learning experience, describing the learning (or perhaps the character) objectives

Middle – (the instruction) may entail a series of tasks (the complications or obstacles) that ultimately seek to lead to an extension in knowledge (the climax)

End – (the plenary) rounds off the learning experience, perhaps with a summary to reinforce what has been learnt (the moral of the story)

An Idea – how about using the filmstrip to tell your story.

Learning Live Conference

Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the Learning Live Conference in London but there are some really good blogs and links to look at. One of which is Julian stodd’s blog

and Craig Taylors blog

and David Kelly’s backchannel

Did any of you attend? Your thoughts