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3D-Audio and Radio Separation

Proven to provide a significant situational awareness and speech intelligibility enhancement through a more natural and intuitive auditory interface.

Spatially separated sound is what every person perceives, when not wearing a headset - so we should call it "natural sound". We actually do detect the direction of a natural sound and use the direction when relevant. Natural sound can be reproduced through a stereo headset when processing is applied to the sound.

Our solution is the only available end-to-end solution, which optimizes every aspect of spatial separation, and therefore provides the best performance available.   

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3D-audio Benefits

Our digital Aircraft Audio Management System (AAMS) offers a range of benefits which include:

  • Reduced workload
  • Improved situational awareness and survivability
  • Reduced hearing loss and fatigue
  • Improved speech intelligibility and flight safety.
Audio Solutions From Terma Royal Danish Air Force

3D-audio is the Natural Sound

A 3D-audio system recreates the "natural sound" (which by definition is 3D) in a standard stereo headset, so putting on the headset will in a matter of seconds enable the listener to perceive and understand it. The capability is utilized in two different ways with the Terma system. Radio separation simply positions each radio at a distinct direction, while 3D-Audio cueing in addition delivers directional information in the most direct and intuitive way.
Cockpit 1 Forsvarsgalleriet

Identify and Focus on the most Important

In mono, the listener perceives each and every audio source as being played in the center of one's head. Multiple simultaneous sources are hard to separate. With 3D-Audio, each audio source is perceived as coming from a distinct direction (as in "real life"), and it is easier to separate them, choose which one to listen to/focus on, and simultaneously the direction could be used to indicate other properties of the audio (e.g. RADIO1 from one o’clock, RADIO2 from eleven o’clock, etc.).

Increased Number of Sources without loss of Integrity

With traditional mono, no more than 2 simultaneous audio cues/messages/tones can be understood by the listener (depending on the types of audio - i.e. voice/tone/alert). With 3D-Audio, more sources can be handled by the listener. Not in the sense that one can understand everything from each of the sources, but one can pick which sources to listen to and suppress the others.

Other benefits

3D-audio Contains Embedded Directional Information

In addition to the "Radio Separation", an important advantage is the ability to present directions to the user by means of 3D-audio. Since this is natural audio, one knows the feeling of hearing e.g. a door slam behind and instinctively and immediately knowing the position. If this was heard in a mono headset, one would not have a clue where the door was. So, to provide the same level of information in a mono headset, one would need to add a statement like "behind you", and such a statement takes time to speak and to understand. It should be obvious that hearing the actual door slamming is a lot faster to understand. So in the analogous situation, when a missile is launched, the response must appear within seconds, and the Terma audio system generates those extra seconds needed.

3D-audio Cuing

In order to reduce the pilot work load and situational awareness (SA), Terma is the first company in the world to have a 3D-audio technology available and fielded to support these key enhancements. Initial studies on the utilization of the technology in a cockpit environment showed in a comparison test that the pilot would perceive the direction of an approaching missile threat 1.5 sec faster by using 3D-audio cuing as compared to presenting the threat in a cockpit panel mounted display.

  • Obstruction warning and cueing head-up identification
  • Uses natural human capability of localizing sound sources in three-dimensional space
  • Instant attention on the threat, no need to understand voice message or interpreting the symbol on a 2D-display.


One-fit-all HRTF-based Solution

The Terma 3D-Audio solution is Head-Related Transfer Function (HRTF) based. The specific HRTF database used with the Terma system is a generic (one-fit-all) HRTF, developed and patented by Aalborg University. Individually adapted HRTFs (the transfer function measured for each individual user) is supported by the Terma system, but it has been verified that our generic HRTF provides excellent performance for airborne applications. A substantial logistics effort involved with individual HRTFs (measuring them for each user, and ensuring that the correct HRTF is installed and used on the aircraft) is avoided by the use of generic HRTF implementation.

3D-Audio with Headtracking

If the position of an audio source needs to change relative to the listener's head (dynamic audio sources), it is necessary to switch between HRTF elements while playing the audio. Dynamic audio sources are required to present audio which must retain a position relative to the aircraft or other external coordinate system. The headtracker compensates for head movements to maintain the direction of the dynamic source. Integration with various head tracker systems, for this purpose, has already been performed. 

3D-Audio application candidates

Examples of 3D-Audio cues are: 

  • Missile Warning System threats
  • Radar Warner Receiver threats
  • Laser Warner System threats
  • Threats from small arms detection systems
  • Indication of direction to beacon in Search & Rescue operations
  • Indication of terrain obstruction warning and cueing
  • Apply direction to audio cues to aircraft subsystems in order to link display and auditory information. 
Airservices Highlight Royal Danish Air Force

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HJE 60071 01

Senior Commercial Product Manager

Henrik Jensen