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Aurally Aided Visual Search Performance Comparing Virtual Audio Systems

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Due to increased computational power reproducing binaural hearing in real-time applications, through usage of head-related transfer functions (HRTFs), is now possible. This paper addresses the differences in aurally-aided visual search performance between an HRTF enhanced audio system (3D) and an amplitude panning audio system (panning) in a virtual environment. We present a performance study involving 33 participants locating aurally-aided visual targets placed at fixed positions, under different audio conditions. A varying amount of visual distractors were present, represented as black circles with white dots. The results indicate that 3D audio yields faster search latencies than panning audio, especially with larger amounts of distractors. The applications of this research could fit virtual environments such as video games or virtual simulations.

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