If you watch James Cameron’s Avatar movie, you’ll notice how the three-dimensional sound really pops and makes the movie seem more immersive and realistic.
That sound comes from Dolby Laboratories, a company that is also trying to get its cool sound technologies into all sorts of digital entertainment devices. At the Consumer Electronics Show, where everything focuses a little too much on visual entertainment, Dolby has a lot of reminders about the importance of sound.
The company is getting its technologies into web-connected TVs, Blu-ray movie players, PCs, smartphones, set-top boxes and game consoles. It’s part of a campaign dubbed Dolby Everywhere. Part of the effort is Dolby Volume, a technology adopted by Motorola and others that reduces the noise level of TV commercials so they’re not as jarring.
The company is also demonstrating Dolby Mobile to help make smartphones sound better, with richer sounds and cleaner, powerful bass sounds. Vudu, the set-top box maker, is using Dolby Digital Plus to deliver 5.1 surround sound for its service on a variety of TVs. More than 2,000 TV models from 19 TV makers use Dolby Digital Plus. More than 50 set-top boxes from 26 manufacturers also use it. Dolby has also launched surround sound voice chat for online games, dubbed Dolby Axon. Those are just some of the various Dolby technologies on display at the show.
If there’s competition for Dolby, it isn’t anything on a grand scale. Rather, it’s that users who are using things like phones, games, and other devices haven’t learned to appreciate things like surround sound or higher quality. It’s Dolby’s job to teach them what they’re missing.