Google's Cardboard headset is probably the most accessible route into VR right now. The company is making that experience more immersive today with an SDK update that lets Cardboard developers add spatial audio features to their apps.
This update gives developers some tricks to make sound more positional. For example, sound from a virtual source to the user's right will be played with a slight delay and less high-frequency content in the left ear to emulate the dampening qualities of our skulls.
The new SDK also lets developers specify the size of the space where their VR experiences are playing out, so a virtual concert hall or movie theater will sound appropriately different from a bedroom or office.
Google also says this SDK is optimized for the multi-core CPUs of today's mobile devices, so positional audio won't compete with an app's main thread for CPU resources. The SDK also lets developers control the quality of sounds, so each audio source can be reproduced with only as much fidelity (and CPU resources) as it needs.
Developers who want to add more spatial awareness to the sounds in their Cardboard apps will get a full set of cross-platform Unity components and a native Java API for Android today.