Nokia achieves world’s first with immersive voice and audio call

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Even as these little pocket computers have made the leap from mobile devices to indispensable digital hubs, smartphone communications have languished in the audio doldrums. It’s a bold claim, but Nokia reckons that it’s managed to achieve the “world’s first immersive voice and audio call,” powered by a new codec.

The demonstration marked an industry first when Nokia enabled a live immersive audio and video call over a commercial 5G network in Finland between Pekka Lundmark, president and CEO of Nokia, and Stefan Lindström, Finland’s ambassador of digitalisation and new technologies. This was only possible thanks to the Immersive Voice and Audio Services (IVAS) codec technology, a new development that will be a part of the 5G Advanced standard.

Unlike today’s monophonic smartphone voice call experience, the IVAS codec enables real-time spatial sound, adding distinctive acoustic dimensions. During the call, Lundmark demonstrated these unique spatial audio capabilities to Lindström while calling from Nokia’s campus in Espoo.

Lindström said the live immersive voice and audio experience offered by IVAS significantly increased the quality and richness of calls. This creates a more realistic experience and interaction, simply by providing three-dimensional sound, which brings a host of benefits for both personal and professional communication. The XR and metaverse interactions are also expected to rise to new levels as immersive communications technology develops further.

Lundmark hailed the demonstration as a glimpse into the future of voice calls, stating, “This groundbreaking audio technology takes you to the caller’s environment creating a spatial and massively improved listening experience for voice and video calls, offering significant benefits for enterprise and industrial applications.”

Live spatial audio on smartphones, tablets, or PCs brings people together one step closer, as the IVAS codec supports this across all devices through the power of the network. It represents the largest advancement in the experience of live voice calling since the replacement of monophonic telephony audio in current smartphones and PCs.

Nokia made significant contributions to the technology of the 3GPP IVAS codec standard, taking a leading role in its standardisation, and working on building a set of basic components with a smartphone format. For spatial communications to become a reality for everyone, this innovation needs to be part of a global standard, allowing operators, chipset manufacturers, and handset manufacturers to interoperate with one another.

Although the IVAS isn’t available on mobile networks just yet, Nokia has completed the industry’s first IVAS real-time call to a commercial 5G network using its proprietary Immersive Voice technology, based on the company’s commercial 5G Core.

Here is the good news: most of the smartphones available today already have at least two microphones, the minimum required for IVAS compatibility. However, the 5G Advanced standard intended to follow today’s 5G cellular technology won’t be fully deployed for years, and mobile networks don’t yet use the IVAS codec.

Nonetheless, this first “immersive” phone call should pave the way for the licensing agreements needed to improve voice call quality and prepare for “enhanced extended reality and metaverse applications,” as Nokia envisions.

Nokia and its 3GPP partners, who co-developed the new IVAS codec, clearly see its potential extending beyond just smartphones and audio calls to include various multimedia applications.

See also: Nokia and Vodafone test latency-busting technology

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Tags: 5G, mobile, network, nokia


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