Originally posted: UC Today, July 16, 2021
Spatial audio holds the answer to help employees reduce stress and unlock productivity
Good morale is undoubtedly one of the more elusive features a modern business tries to manage in their workplace.
The old adage of doing what you love so it doesn’t feel like work is a nice enough idea, but the reality is that many of us look forward to getting over hump day and sliding away on a Friday afternoon.
As we have migrated to the home, morale has become more important as interactions are over video calls in a professional capacity, and pets and children replace the everyday office chat.
This trend has the attention of the biggest players in the collaboration space, with Microsoft Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan saying, “In today’s world of remote and hybrid work, it’s not sufficient to only encourage self-care. We need to innovate and leverage technology to help employees operationalize much-needed breaks into their daily routines.”
Immersitech addresses the problem with Chief Technology Officer Dave Horan outlining the impacts of back-to-back video meetings. “The flat and mono based nature of online interactions cause increased stress due to prolonged eye contact, non-directional audio cues and minimal movement,” said Horan, “in addition, the brain overcompensates to understand the unique participant attributes and the context of the meeting, which impacts us in several ways.
First, poor audio impairs cognitive function and forces listeners to expend more energy processing what is being said. This “effortful listening” is linked to poor memory and higher stress, thus reducing teams’ overall productivity and ability to operate at a high level.
Secondly, a marked reduction in focus as background noise is likely a factor in poor audio quality. If ambient noise isn’t suppressed, it can distract participants to the point where they will have trouble paying attention. Finally, poor audio quality results in physiological symptoms as the ears and brain work harder to retain information. If parts of a conversation are unintelligible, your brain will compensate and fill in the blanks leading to headaches and fatigue after a difficult call.”
Immersitech offers tools providing relief from the stress caused by the monotonous back-to-back virtual meetings with their spatial audio solution.
Built to mirror the elements of an in-person meeting, the spatial (3D) audio technology channels sound in a more natural way to the listener, thus, giving the brain less to do as it works out who is speaking and what they are saying.
“Spatial audio can provide 360-degree audio so that a voice can be heard by participants in a more discernable location from the individual speaking,” said Horan.
“When holding meetings, many participants are usually in the same room, and individual voices are separated by distance and appear at specific points around the meeting table, which makes it relatively easy and natural for us to identify and decipher who is speaking”
“When it comes to virtual voices – regardless of the number of participants on a call – all the voices come from the same position and at the same distance from the listener. This artificial soundscape creates a muddied, unclear, and unnatural listening experience. It’s a flat experience devoid of the spatial audio cues that help our minds comprehend who is talking, when, and whom. It all contributes to the fatigue we often feel after a virtual meeting.
“The flat and unidirectional cacophony of the audio in a virtual meeting can be helped with the use of spatial (3D) audio technology, which can address the audio shortcomings of video meetings. Imagine you’re on a video call with four colleagues and when the person in the upper left of the screen speaks, her voice in your headphones or sounds as if it’s originating from that direction in space. There’s no quick visual scan needed to know who’s speaking; spatial audio lets you know immediately.
“Spatial audio can also serve up even more audible cues. For example, if a person moves back in their chair to have a sideways conversation with someone in their physical space, their voice grows softer sounds farther away. The opposite occurs if the person speaks louder. As a result, the brain can relax and understand the context of the material presented instead of overcompensating, which causes anxiety and confusion”
For more information on how spatial audio can improve your users health and their productivity, visit Immersitech.
To see the original blog post, visit UC Today.