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Sound All Around

Three-dimensional sound effects-like a voice seemingly moving from behind you to in front of you, or coming from far away-are common features in video games and could begin to enhance otherwise flat business presentations. Scientists at Siemens Corporate Research in Princeton, NJ, have developed Web-based software that applies myriad tricks-such as reverb and sound-muffling-to audio files to create such effects; it also streams the finished product, so users of handheld devices can hear it through their headphones. The Siemens approach requires none of the laborious programming that sophisticated audio manipulation usually entails; it works by adding a few new extensions to an existing Web standard known as the synchronized multimedia integration language. To hear the 3-D audio results, the listener simply goes to the Web site where the file is stored. A prototype is complete, says project manager Stuart Goose, but Siemens has not stated any plans for commercialization.

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