The BBC's research and development arm has launched an investigation in to the 'future of sound' at the BBC. The five-year project will be looking at a number of possible areas of advance, with a view to keeping the BBC up-to-date with modern technology, and listening habits.
As well as looking into new ways to record audio and deliver it to its listeners (and viewers), the BBC will be looking at ways to improve its efficiency and reduce costs - no doubt part of the justification for the financial outlay on this research project. Some of the areas the BBC will be looking into include spatial audio, and whether that technology could be used to deliver 3D sound to listeners; whether 3D sound can be delivered using headphones; development of ways to upscale old mono recordings to multi-channel audio and improving the quality of compressed audio.
The research into 3D sound via spatial audio is particularly interesting, ad the BBC is currently in the process of testing its 3D broadcasting for television. No doubt there's some thought that with 3D sound also in its repertoire the BBC would have a much compelling 'surround' product that the it currently provides.
Primarily, the BBC will be partnering with Surrey University for audio-visual research and Salford University for acoustics research, but other universities are involved, and it's possible that additional parties will join the project while it is in progress. The only black cloud hovering over this announcement is that with the five-year timeline, its unlikely that much new technology will be filtering through to the day-to-day operations of the BBC any time soon.