Imperial College London

Imperial research to feature at the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition


Imperial’s Audio Experience Design team is one of just nine teams chosen to feature at the Royal Society’s flagship science engagement event.

What is immersive sound? How does your ear shape affect the way you hear? How can virtual reality games help young people with cochlear implants?

These are just some of the questions that Dr Lorenzo Picinali’s Audio Experience Design (AXD) team from the Dyson School of Design Engineering plan to answer at their ‘Virtual Audio: Illusion or Reality?’ exhibit at the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition 2023 (4-9 July), featuring research from the SONICOM and BEARS projects.

As the Royal Society’s flagship science engagement programme, the Summer Science Exhibition attracts thousands of visitors every year to meet world-leading researchers and learn about some of the UK’s most exciting science.

“It’s a true privilege for us to be able to present our research and demonstrate some of the technology we develop at such a prestigious venue,” said Picinali.

Demonstrating cutting-edge research

The Virtual Audio: Illusion or Reality? exhibit focuses on how people and technology can adapt to each other to enhance virtual and physical interactions, specifically looking at hearing and acoustics.

Visitors to the exhibit will get the opportunity to learn about the AXD team’s research through chats with scientists and hands-on activities, including:

  • Having their heads 3D scanned. The EU-funded SONICOM project is looking at how we can make virtual audio more realistic by personalising it based on your head and ear shape. Visitors will get the opportunity to have their heads 3D scanned and learn about how technology can be adapted to account for people’s individual differences.
  • Trying out some virtual reality games. The NIHR-funded BEARS project is looking at how virtual reality games can help young people with cochlear implants to localise and understand sounds in noisy environments. Visitors will get the chance to try out these games using head-mounted displays and to learn about how humans can adapt to the technology we use.
  • Experiencing virtual, immersive audio. Digitally altering sounds to feel ‘3D’ and immersive acoustics is central to both of these projects. Visitors will get the opportunity to experience examples of 3D sounds and learn about the research behind creating it and why it’s important.

Alongside the physical exhibit, the team have produced an online portal where people can learn about the team’s research, watch videos, and sign up for experiments.

The Summer Science Exhibition takes place at the Royal Society, Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG from Tuesday 4 July 2023 to Sunday 9 July 2023. The event is free and open to the public.


Harry Jenkins

Harry Jenkins

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Artificial-intelligence, Events, Societal-engagement, Engineering-Design-Eng, European-Union, Virtual-and-augmented-reality
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