ITU Produces Draft Of 'Interactive' TV, Radio Sound Standard

Would succeed 5.1 surround sound standard, adding vertical as well as horizontal rendering

Move over 5.1 surround sound, the International Telecommunications Union Monday announced it has come up with a draft recommendation for the next generation in "immersive" and now "interactive" TV (and radio) audio.

"A single coherent approach was needed that could provide sufficient flexibility to allow a variety of techniques to co-exist," said ITU. "The newly agreed system has now achieved this."

An ITU Study Group has tentatively approved a new standard, compatible with current stereo and 5.1 speakers or add speakers for a more "immersive" experience, says ITU, adding "The system enables an environment where the user can interact with the receiver to create the audio landscape that he or she wishes."

ITU 20 years ago approved 5.1, which involved five speakers all placed at ear level combined with a low-frequency sub-woofer. The new system takes it to the next level, literally. It has more channels of audio and can include more and elevated speakers since the audio is tracked both horizontally and vertically. Or the effect can be "dynamically rendered" for existing speaker set-ups, ITU says.

The system works with ultra-high definition, existing HDTV and SDTV, and radio, as well as with discs and other “packaged media.”

The draft recommendation ‘Advanced Sound System for Programme Production,’ is being submitted to ITU members for approval. At the same time, Study Group 6 will continue to work on the standard to define "the universal labeling (‘metadata’) system needed."

ITU is the United Nations agency overseeing global communications and information technology, comprising more than 190 members including the U.S.