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OIKLA

The Future Of Sound Perception

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THE PROJECT

THE PROJECT

 

Achieve hyper-realistic soundscapes

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Use Headphones

DEMO

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MUSIC

Arena encompassing

sounds at safe levels.

 
 
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EndorseD BY

EndorseD BY

Grammy Award Winner 

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" The way they are doing it and the technology they have is an amazing tool! "

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" Impressive technology - Perceptively loud volume

but without running risks "  

Partners

Partners

OIKLA has been selected to join their ventures Program for 6 months to accelerate our business expansion

We will be working closely with:

ChriS Howard

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CEO @ The Rattle -
Former mentor and Entrepreneur in Residence for MIT's 

Nick Mayer

Jon EADES

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Co-Founder @ Rattle Ventures, Senior Lecturer @ MIT, Founder @ Provocative Science Syndicate
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COO / Co-Founder at The Rattle
Former Innovation Manager at Abbey Road Studio
And have access to a community of one hundred and fifty artists hackers inventors makers journalists tech nerds performers scientists comediens recording artists film makers startup founders podcasters
 

OIKLA’s technology was showcased at
Abbey Road Institute

 Abbey Road Institute

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"Good Work! You should be proud, this is obviously a result of numerous hours of work. On first impression is very exciting."

Audio Lecturer
@Abbey Road Institute

Jason O'Bryan

 

Intellectual Property

Our core patent has just been published for international review.

Click the button below to see the details

👇
 
 
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MISSION

TO CREATE
UNREAL
sonic EXPERIENCES aT
safe
volumE
For

VR |Gaming | AR

1

gamers spend more than 400 hours a year in front of the gaming screen

2

To make the gaming experience more thrilling, we increase sound levels to high volumes

3

5

OIKLA integrates with Unreal Engine to  design immersive sonic experiences for gamers even at safe volumes!!

4

Our patented technology recreates the immersiveness of high volumes by encoding perception metadata into Unreal Engine.

During playtime, audio is processed according to that metadata and the gamer’s current volume which in turn guarantees a thrilling sonic experience without the need to raise sound level
 

6

gamers can enjoy superior gameplay for a prolonged amount of time with the knowledge that their hearing is safe.

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THE PROJECT

7. Rollout the product


Phased rollout of product - initially to a controlled group of developers and then to the open market





Detailed Explanation

Executive Summary


We are creating a new worldwide audio protocol to significantly expand the native audio capabilities of Unreal Engine while ensuring 100% hearing safety for all gamers To achieve our goal, we are working on three different areas:

  1. Technology - We have developed and patented new technology to define this new audio protocol.
  2. Products - We are creating multiple products to radically improve the sound experience of gamers by providing game developers with a different tool of audio enhancement kits, which are currently unavailable in the audio industry as a whole.
  3. Awareness - We raise awareness on hearing loss. The WHO estimates that hearing loss is a problem affecting more than 1 billion people, which heavily impacts gamers.
In this project, OIKLA seeks to develop its very first product: : PERCEPTION, a developer tool (API) that empowers game developers to design captivating and immersive sonic experiences, translating into improved gaming environments for gamers, at safer volumes, ensuring their hearing is protected. This project addresses the sound perception issue between creators and gamers, a problem that is especially bad for video games, where things like explosions or more in general sound that are rich in sound frequency ranges that are hard for our brains to interpret and locate but are very important to the gameplay. Also, the explosion of esports makes sound design even more important - as these esports games compose an increasing percentage of the total revenue for game companies. This project addresses several limitations in game audio for which OIKLA has created an effective solution (API). The limitations are:
  1. Noise induced hearing loss - According to the WHO 1.1 billion young people are at risk of permanent hearing loss due to loud sound exposure in recreational settings.
  2. No global sound standard - The lack of a global sound standard that ensures individuals can perceive high and low frequencies at safe sound levels.
  3. Sound Localization - Different sound levels affect our ability to locate the origin of sound within a game.
Worldwide hearing loss could see 1 in 7 people worldwide affected by severe hearing loss, instead OIKLA’s solution aims to tackle this. It aims to greatly improve gamers’ sonic experience and spatialization and provide a global sound standard preventing long term hearing loss.
The project is under development, we currently have a working prototype. Epic Mega Grants would provide the necessary resources to complete and transform OIKLA’s product into a fully functional API for Unreal Engine - fuelling the next-generation of gaming!




Background informations


Firstly, it is necessary for us to make a clear distinction about terms used to explain the Problem and the Solution. Sound Level or Volume
These terms will be used to describe the physical sound pressure level usually measured in decibel (dB) or pascal produced by a transducer (loudspeaker or headphones). This commonly refers to the “volume”, which we all change when the sound level needs to be quieter or louder on our sound systems. Sound Perception
Sound perception is used to describe how the brain “hears” the sound. Unlike propagated sound through a transducer, such as loudspeakers or headphones, there is no linear correlation between the sound measured in the real world and the spectral balance perceived by our brains - meaning that the frequency spectrum measured is not what the brain is perceiving. This phenomenon was first discovered and studied by Fletcher and Munson in 1933. Their study produced what is now widely known as the “Equal Loudness Curves”, which illustrate the phenomenon of human hearing.
Equal Loudness Curves: When the quality of the listening experience is affected by the sound levels.
Situation: Listening to audio through your loudspeakers or headphones
In this situation as the actual sound level changes, the perceived loudness our brain registers will change at a different rate, depending on the frequency. Here is what this means:
At low listening volumes – mid-range frequencies, at which the human voice ranges: sound is more prominent, while low and high-frequency ranges seem to fall into the background. The low and high frequencies are more prominent at high listening volumes, while the mid-range seems comparatively softer. Yet, in reality, the overall tonal balance of the sound played back by the sound system remains the same, no matter what the volume - it is our brain that hears the difference! Below is a visual example to illustrate how the brain perceives something different from reality.
Which one of these two lines is longer? You may perceive the bottom line to be longer than the top line, but they are the same length! Similarly the brain perceives sound differently than can be measured. Low and high frequencies appear to be quieter than the mid-range even though the respective sound level is the same. Given the same sound level of each frequency range, mid-frequencies are always perceived louder than lower and higher range frequencies. However, the perceived difference between the low or high-frequency range and the mid-frequency range diminishes as the sound level increases, meaning that low and high are progressively heard louder as we increase the sound level. The table below compares the relationship between three sound levels (safe, risky, and dangerous) and their relative frequency range perception using the same optical illusion.
Even if the sound levels are the same for each frequency range, the low and high-frequency ranges are the only ones that are perceived differently relative to the medium frequency range across the three different sound levels. As sound levels increase, its relative perception does too: perceived from quieter (shorter) to louder (longer).




What are the problems that our technology solves?


1st PROBLEM
The phenomenon discovered by Fletcher and Munson presents a problem for both the production (sound creation) and reproduction (audio playback) stages wherever there is audio i.e. Film, Music, video games, VR etc… . One of the most fundamental characteristics of a good sound mix is achieving the ideal balance of frequencies to the listener (here gamer) during the production stages.
Another consideration to be taken into account is sound localization. In adults, sound localization accuracy depends on the frequency content of the sound heard. Since the sound level affects the perceived frequency spectrum, it can reduce localization accuracy for predominantly rich sounds, such as explosions, in low and high frequencies. At safer sound levels, our hearing significantly lacks low and high-frequency perception.
This begs the question: how are sound creators supposed to achieve a good and spatialized mix when the perceived balance of frequencies changes as the volume changes? And even if all sound creators agreed to create and mix audio at a single and standardized sound level, it would still not guarantee that the end listener (the gamer) would choose to listen to the same sound level as the creators did.
While sound creators, especially game designers and exec producers, cannot guarantee the sound they carefully crafted will be perceived as intended by gamers who arbitrarily change sound levels; gamers’ sound experience and knowledge of the provenance of sound (crucial in gaming notably in the Esports sector) is lost given that sound levels can be changed arbitrarily and consequently modify the original sound experience created for them. 2nd Problem
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss The higher the sound level to which we are exposed, the shorter the time it takes to cause hearing loss. In fact, from 85 dB, the time we can safely be exposed to halves for every 3 dB increase. Meaning that a steady sound level of 85 dB will cause hearing loss after 8 hours, whereas a sound level of 115 dB will cause hearing loss after only 30 seconds. As we explored earlier, the higher the volume, the more our brain perceives the low and high-frequency ranges compared to the mid-frequency, which means louder sound levels enable us to access a much fuller and more exciting sound experience.

Gamers and, more generally, any listener is more often than not left to increase the sound level to obtain a more immersive and engaging gaming experience. The higher the sound level, the better we hear low and high frequencies. However, the higher sound makes them forget that even short, loud exposure (>1 minute) causes permanent hearing loss and/or a chronic condition like tinnitus.

The WHO estimates that 1 in 7 or 1.1 billion people worldwide are at risk of permanent hearing loss due to loud sound exposure in recreational settings. In summary, different sound levels affect the overall quality of the listening experience in a nonlinear fashion.
Here are the biggest differences:

  • Higher sound levels offer a more thrilling and immersive sonic experience but are responsible for irreversible and premature hearing loss.
  • Lower sound levels are safer but do not offer the thrill of higher sound volumes.




The Solution


The Solution What if sound could offer the richness and excitement of high volumes but at safe listening levels? OIKLA’s solution offers just this! makes it possible elegantly and effectively. Building a worldwide sound perception standard that enables sound creators to create sonic experiences translates into superior listening environments independently from the end gamer’s sound level.

How does OIKLA empower creators? OIKLA’s technology allows sound creators to embed sonic information about any sound element into the form of metadata that specify the sound perception the end-listeners will be listening to regardless of their sound level. Thus, providing an alternative to the link made between the sound level and the sound perception. This new tool provides sound creators the ability to create and customize sound experiences that translate exactly as intended in a way that is currently impossible. Here are two examples, one with OIKLA and one without.

  1. Jane is the sound creator.
  2. Mike is the gamer.

Without OIKLA Jane designs a Gunfire sound - A gunfire sound is likely to exceed 110 dB in real life.
To have a realistic sound perception, the Gunfire sound would need to be played back at 110 dB. However, 110 dB would not only be deafening for Mike (well above what is considered safe), but very few sound systems could reproduce such high sound levels without significantly distorting the original audio.
With OIKLA Jane creates a Gunfire sound and selects a sound perception of 110 dB. OIKLA shapes the spectral balance of the audio to realistically represent the gunfire sound perception at a safer sound level. When Jane is happy with the sound perception assigned to the gunfire sound, he embeds the metadata into Unreal Engine. The metadata specifies that the gunfire sound must provide the listener with a perceived sound equivalent to 110 dB. During playtime, Mike sets a safe sound level (>83 dB).
OIKLA’s technology is embedded within the game itself through Unreal Engine and reads the gunfire’s metadata at “110 dB” and detects Mike’s current sound level at “75 dB”. Once OIKLA is provided with these two pieces of information, it adjusts the gunfire’s spectral balance to be perceived by Mike as if it were played at a sound level of 110 dB. Note that OIKLA processes the audio in real-time based on the current gamer’s sound level. The outcome is:
  1. Mike’s hearing is safe.
  2. Mike’s sonic experience was not sacrificed due to the low listening level.
  3. The sonic experience that Jane crafted for Mike is preserved regardless of the in-game sound levels.




Why is it important to know the real-time gamer’s sound level?


Given how the different sound levels greatly affect the overall listening experience. OIKLA must know the sound level to which the gamer is exposed to at any given time otherwise it can’t process audio correctly.. Detecting the real-time user’s sound level (sound creator or gamer) allows OIKLA to determine the user’s spectral perception. The user’s spectral perception describes how much of each frequency (20 Hz to then 20 kHz) the listener’s brain is “hearing” or better “perceiving”, which is not what can be recorded and measured using a microphone. Given the exact sound comparison between the frequency spectrum of the recorded audio signal from a microphone and the user’s perceived frequency, we would see that:

  1. The two would always show different results
  2. These differences would further differ as to the playback level (volume) changes.
In summary, knowing what the listener is truly hearing (the starting point “1”) allows OIKLA to understand the path it needs to take to get the desired sound perception without increasing the sound level (the arrival point “2”).




How does OIKLA detect the user’s listening levels?


Depending on the type of sound system used (speakers or headphones), we offer solutions to reliably detect the gamer’s sound levels without constantly monitoring sound levels using a microphone.
Loudspeakers:

Our intuitive smartphone app allows a one-time, intuitive calibration of the sound system to establish a relationship between the digital audio level and the sound level (sound pressure level) experienced by the gamer’s listening position.

Headphones:

A pre-calibrated list of headphones will be provided for headphones, thus requiring minimum action from the gamer. The calibration process consists of creating a list of headphones that OIKLA will test in-house in advance to identify their properties such as frequency response and the maximum loudness produced.
By performing this calibration OIKLA will create a profile for each headphone model so that the final gamer has, only to choose the headset for use. For wired headsets, the gamer will need to choose the model used from a dropdown menu. However, for Bluetooth headphones, the model will be automatically detected.




A Simplified Explanation of OIKLA’s Smart DSP Algorithms


According to the gamer’s sound level and the sound perception level specified by the sound creator in the form of the metadata, OIKLA computes and processes the audio through smart DSP algorithms based on psychoacoustic principles, which shape the audio frequency spectrum to achieve the specified sound perception, resulting in an enhanced sonic experience without the need for changing sound levels. OIKLA enables a new layer of sound customization/enhancement for sound creators.
Our technology enables the emulation of how the gamer perceives a specific sound element within a game. There are two ways in which this emulation can occur. One of the two is to assign sound perception similar to the one you would experience in real life. Therefore, if a firing shotgun produces 120 dB in real life, the sound creator can assign that sound perception level within Unreal Engine to recreate a realistic sound perception thanks to OIKLA. However, suppose the game developer intends to create a sonic experience that differs from real ones. In that case, OIKLA allows that by letting the game developers apply Hyper-Realistic soundscapes, which are not similar to how sound is perceived in real life! This ultimately provides the game developer community with a new layer of sound customization and enhancement that further augment the gaming experience.




OIKLA’s Sound Perception Standard (conclusion)


In conclusion, OIKLA’s sound perception standard enables sound creators to confidently and arbitrarily decide how each audio element in a video game will be perceived by the gamer regardless of the sound level during playtime. This allows both ends (sound creators and gamers) to experience an enhanced and immersive sonic experience at safe sound levels. We believe that this will greatly expand the native audio capabilities of Unreal Engine while pushing the next-gen of sound in gaming and VR.





 
 
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OUr Next Steps

OUr Next Steps

To complete PERCEPTION, we need to take few more steps, including:

 

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3. Complete the calibration process


Calibration process is as follows:

  • Sound engineer to test headphones
  • Create a catalogue of the most used headphones in gaming
  • Create an automated calibration app ( iOS & Android ) procedure when using loudspeakers.





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7. Rollout the product


Phased rollout of product - initially to a controlled group of developers and then to the open market





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3. Complete the calibration process


Calibration process is as follows:

  • Sound engineer to test headphones
  • Create a catalogue of the most used headphones in gaming
  • Create an automated calibration app ( iOS & Android ) procedure when using loudspeakers.





7. Rollout the product


Phased rollout of product - initially to a controlled group of developers and then to the open market





3. Complete the calibration process


Calibration process is as follows:

  • Sound engineer to test headphones
  • Create a catalogue of the most used headphones in gaming
  • Create an automated calibration app ( iOS & Android ) procedure when using loudspeakers.





5. Quality assurance


Multiple iterations and testing sessions on Unreal engine on multiple platforms for each step until quality standards are met





7. Rollout the product


Phased rollout of product - initially to a controlled group of developers and then to the open market





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ProductS 

We created a beta standalone version of PERCEPTION which game developers and anyone involved with audio can use in DAW “digital audio workstation”.
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expanded our flagship witH

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We are developing a new Standalone Software designed for PC gamers that enhances sonic experiences at the click of a button. SHAPE uses a simplified version of the underlying core technology.

We are aiming to release the first beta in the second half of October.

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THE BIGGER PICTURE

THE BIGGER PICTURE

We believe that every person should enjoy healthy and immersive listening experiences.


PERCEPTION is our first step to define a new audio protocol to change the way we listen for good but we have much more in our pipeline!


Our longer-term plan includes developing more products for gamers and for game developers as well as specific versions of PERCEPTION for other industries such as cinema, television and music.


We are also committed to work on valuable projects alongside foundations and associations to promote hearing health and prevent hearing loss.
 

OIKLA's 

ROADMAP

ROADMAP

WHAT WE ACHIEVED SO FAR:
  • R&D resulting in 6 different patents
  • Development of core technology
  • Development of initial prototype
  • Application of technology for multiple demos
  • Two rounds of fundraising from different angel investors
  • Recruited core team
  • Website go-live
  • Ran survey resulting in feedback from 100+ potential users
  • Finalised partnership with SAE Institute and Riccardo Damian

 
WHAT WE ARE WORKING ON:
  • Development of PERCEPTION from initial prototype
  • Finalising two additional partnerships
  • Running the third round of fundraising
 
NEXT STEPS:
  • Expand team
  • Marketing to launch PERCEPTION
  • Adding more features to PERCEPTION
  • 4  new products in the pipeline based on our core technology
  • Development of multiple version of PERCEPTION for different industries including music and cinema
  • A new R&D project to develop new technology
 
 
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More questions? Drop us a line

 
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The company and the people behind it.

ABOUT US

US

We are a multicultural team with a passion for gaming and for audio.


We are mostly based in London but have always encouraged flexibility: some of our people are working from France, Italy and Spain.


Our work is based on several years of R&D on audio technology: the hard work is now paying its dividends as we are currently securing 6 different patents to protect our extensive IP.


During the last 18 months, we have successfully secured funding from angel investors from the UK, Switzerland and the US.


We believe that the products we are building have the potential to disrupt many industries, particularly the gaming one. 
 

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Founder

Favourite game: Super Mario 64

Luigi

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Ragnar

Senior Developer

Favourite game: Final Fantasy VII Remake

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Martina

Sound Engineer

Favourite game: Duck Hunt NES

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Michael

UX

Favourite game: Tekken 7

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Luca

PR and Endorsments

Favourite game: Horizon Zero Dawn

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Andrea

Finance

Favourite game: Asssassin's Creed 2

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Roberto

Strategy

Favourite game: Asphalt 8

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Fabio

QA Tester

Favourite game: The last of us

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