“Modeling acoustics in virtual environments using the uniform theory of diffraction” by Tsingos, Funkhouser, Ngan and Carlbom

  • ©Nicolas Tsingos, Thomas (Tom) A. Funkhouser, Addy Ngan, and Ingrid B. Carlbom




    Modeling acoustics in virtual environments using the uniform theory of diffraction



    Realistic modeling of reverberant sound in 3D virtual worlds provides users with important cues for localizing sound sources and understanding spatial properties of the environment. Unfortunately, current geometric acoustic modeling systems do not accurately simulate reverberant sound. Instead, they model only direct transmission and specular reflection, while diffraction is either ignored or modeled through statistical approximation. However, diffraction is important for correct interpretation of acoustic environments, especially when the direct path between sound source and receiver is occluded.
    The Uniform Theory of Diffraction (UTD) extends geometrical acoustics with diffraction phenomena: illuminated edges become secondary sources of diffracted rays that in turn may propagate through the environment. In this paper, we propose an efficient way for computing the acoustical effect of diffraction paths using the UTD for deriving secondary diffracted rays and associated diffraction coefficients. Our main contributions are: 1) a beam tracing method for enumerating sequences of diffracting edges efficiently and without aliasing in densely occluded polyhedral environments; 2) a practical approximation to the simulated sound field in which diffraction is considered only in shadow regions; and 3) a real-time auralization system demonstrating that diffraction dramatically improves the quality of spatialized sound in virtual environments.


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