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Journal of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 457374, 13 pages
Research Article

Digital Augmented Reality Audio Headset

Department of Signal Processing and Acoustics, Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering, P.O. Box 13000, 00076 Aalto, Finland

Received 4 May 2012; Revised 31 August 2012; Accepted 9 September 2012

Academic Editor: Athanasios Mouchtaris

Copyright © 2012 Jussi Rämö and Vesa Välimäki. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Augmented reality audio (ARA) combines virtual sound sources with the real sonic environment of the user. An ARA system can be realized with a headset containing binaural microphones. Ideally, the ARA headset should be acoustically transparent, that is, it should not cause audible modification to the surrounding sound. A practical implementation of an ARA mixer requires a low-latency headphone reproduction system with additional equalization to compensate for the attenuation and the modified ear canal resonances caused by the headphones. This paper proposes digital IIR filters to realize the required equalization and evaluates a real-time prototype ARA system. Measurements show that the throughput latency of the digital prototype ARA system can be less than 1.4 ms, which is sufficiently small in practice. When the direct and processed sounds are combined in the ear, a comb filtering effect is brought about and appears as notches in the frequency response. The comb filter effect in speech and music signals was studied in a listening test and it was found to be inaudible when the attenuation is 20 dB. Insert ARA headphones have a sufficient attenuation at frequencies above about 1 kHz. The proposed digital ARA system enables several immersive audio applications, such as a virtual audio tourist guide and audio teleconferencing.