Dolby Atmos is making virtual reality incredibly realistic

Oculus Rift

Devices like Gear VR and Oculus Rift are already impressive enough already, but now Dolby is stepping in with its Atmos sound system to help make them even better.

Dolby is working with VR company Jaunt to give audio the same level immersiveness that the video is getting. There are a couple of apps available, designed to work mostly with Google Cardboard and other VR headsets. Samsung's Gear VR uses its own store, and it's trickier to use Google Play apps on it.

The first material will be clips from Black Mass, which appears to be a horror film experience, a monster film called Kaiju Fury!, and Paul McCartney's 2014 Live and Let Die concert.

Ideal companion

Atmos is good for VR because it's a total re-working of how soundtracks for movies are designed. In the old days, things were given channels, which placed them specifically within a "box".

Because rooms don't move, that's fine for cinemas and homes, but for applications like VR it makes more sense to have object based audio.

Atmos does this, and when a movie is encoded using Dolby's new Atmos hardware, sounds are assigned all sorts of extra data. Speakers in the theater are then driven to create sound that comes from 3D space, independent of speaker locations.

You can see, no doubt, how this relates to virtual reality. With an Atmos soundtrack, you could be locked in a room, tied to a chair, but able to move your head. Sounds from the room would move in relation to where you were looking, giving you not only visual freedom, but audio that matches it.

If you have some sort of VR headset then you can head to Jaunt VR to experience these clips, and more.