Any real gaming experience includes two aspects; the game-play and the game-experience. While a game cannot exist without good gameplay, the in-game immersive experience brings it to the next level. Visuals, comfort, and state of mind are all necessary aspects in obtaining this experience and G’ Audio Lab is dedicated to giving you the immersive experience you want when gaming. Their multi-tiered company provides software for 3D sound, VR video, and other VR game enhancing features. Their suite of tools also is heavily being leveraged in cinematic applications. The company has already raised a Series A round and plans to grow as the leading spatial-audio startup.
LA TechWatch chatted with CEO and cofounder Henney Oh about the company’s growth and where they plan to go from here.
Tell us about the product or service.
G’Audio Lab is a spatial audio company dedicated to developing immersive, state-of-the-art audio production software solutions for creative professionals. Combining 3D sound with interactivity, G’Audio’s suite of tools, including G’Audio Works, G’Audio Sol and G’Audio Craft, offer full immersive sounds through regular headphones and seamless integration for cinematic VR, 360° video and VR gaming projects. We have successfully created the core technology for spatial audio in VR and it has even been adopted as part of next-generation international 3D audio standard by the Moving Picture Experts Group.
How is it different?
G’Audio Lab’s tools are creating interactive 3D audio for life-like VR experiences. Sound localization should be in effect not only for moving sound sources in a scene, but also for the listener, who has the ability to move about freely in a virtual environment. Thus, in order to provide a truly realistic experience, sound should be adjusted for in real-time following the movement and head orientation of the user. The user’s six degrees of freedom (6DoF) are taken into consideration, and the audio is adjusted for accordingly, delivering life-like sound. Most players in the market are very limited, in a way barely placing sounds on a horizontal plane, but not on a vertical plane, nor reflecting room reverberation or occlusion effects. Additionally, our technology supports the simultaneous use of three audio signals to create lifelike sound with environmental ambience with a full combination of mono object tracks to represent sound coming from individual objects, traditional 2.0 or 5.1 channel-based tracks as well as Ambisonics to deliver sounds captured by 360° microphones.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Virtual reality is quickly rising up as the next wave of media and the growing popularity of head mounted displays is giving people access to a new level of freedom of movement and viewpoint. Content creators have embraced the opportunity to produce next-level experiences in VR but up until now, focus has been primarily on the visual component. This is because there haven’t been audio technologies available that enable creators to makes hearing experiences that match the advances in VR video. As great American filmmaker George Lucas once said, “sound is half of the experience.” In order to have a truly immersive and realistic VR experience, there must be proper 3D audio synchronized with video to deliver the most realistic sound possible.
What is the business model?
For cinematic VR applications, we offer a free spatial audio solution called G’Audio Works. It is a plugin for digital audio workstation, which enables the creation of life-like 3D sound. While the projects can be exported in file formats for YouTube or Facebook, we also offer our own rendering player called G’Audio Sol. Sol is a spatial audio player specifically designed to render cinematic VR and 360° videos. We charge a licensing fee for integrating Sol SDK into a variety of services or devices. Our third product, G’Audio Craft, is a plugin for video game development engines like Unity and Unreal that provides more realistic 3D sound production and localization than the game engine’s internal default system. Craft was well acknowledged during its close beta, so the willingness to pay is there whether it’d be subscription model or revenue sharing.
What are your predictions for the LA startup ecosystem for 2017?
Los Angeles is home to many creative professionals, especially in the area of production. This has naturally led to a rapidly growing startup community focused on the intersection of media, entertainment and technology. We believe this sector will continue to grow at an exponential rate and that we will witness a lot of exciting new collaborations between “traditional” and “new” content production standpoints. Sundance 2017, for example, many of VR films were created in LA based studios. Small yet experienced LA based companies will be the leading force behind creating new a content market.
Tell us a little about your background and what inspired the business?
I’ve been passionate about the evolution of sound and audio for decades and have built a team at G’Audio Lab that has more than 68 years of combined experience in the audio industry. We are focused on developing advanced technologies that elevate the sound experience. As VR began to take off, we noticed that no one was adequately addressing 3D audio solutions and knew our team could create the ultimate technology. We have successfully created the core technology for spatial audio in VR and it has even been adopted as part of next-generation international 3D audio standards by the Moving Picture Experts Group.
Tell us what building your company in LA has been like?
It has been an exciting journey for us so far. We thought that having our headquarters first established in Korea would make it difficult for a soft launch in Los Angeles, however, it turns out many Angelenos are interested in learning more about our technology and solutions. In addition, we have made many connections as the community here is very open to exploring exciting new offerings.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We hope to gain more exposure in the sound design, sound engineering, as well as game development communities. As our suite of tools greatly improve the VR user’s immersion, experience and interaction, we hope to have more professionals using our technology to create amazing content.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the community who would it be and why?
I’d very much like to meet investors who have strong beliefs in the future of virtual reality and how this technology continues to evolve the user experience. More specifically, I would like to meet those investors who are most interested in creating truly interactive and immersive 3D audio for life-like VR experiences.
What does being “Made in LA” mean to you and your company?
Establishing our business in Los Angeles puts us at the center of opportunity. Being in the media and entertainment capital of the world helps us to further establish our company as a leader in 3D audio solutions.
What else can be done to promote early stage entrepreneurship in Los Angeles?
For my industry, it would be great to have more virtual reality events and meetups. More events would in turn create additional conversation and facilitate new connections, which would ultimately grow the entire Los Angeles startup community.
What is your favorite LA bar, when you need to kick back and relax?
I could give a much better answer in 6 months, but as of now I love ’Karl Strauss Brewing Company,’ as it serves high quality craft beers together with nice food and is very close to our office.