The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Development and Evaluation of Augmented Reality Audio Systems

Miikka Tikander

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Faculty of Electronics, Communications and Automation for public examination and debate in Auditorium S4 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 13th of November, 2009, at 12 noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 978-952-248-153-5)   [1276 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-952-248-152-8)


This thesis explores different aspects of augmented reality audio (ARA). In ARA applications, the natural sound environment is enriched with the addition of virtual sounds, and their mixture is presented to the listener using headphones. A typical configuration has microphones placed outside of the headphones, and these natural environmental signals are combined with virtual source renderings. This work focuses on the concept of using an insert-type of headset with integrated microphones as a platform for ARA applications and environments.

Subjective and objective measurements were performed to yield optimum equalization for the headset design. Based on the measurement results, an ARA system composed of a headset and mixer unit is proposed. The sound quality and usability of the system is further evaluated in laboratory and real-life situations.

Furthermore, a novel method for acoustic positioning and head tracking is introduced. By placing a set of anchor sound sources in the environment, an ARA headset can be used to determine sound propagation times from the anchor sources to the headset microphones. When the sound source locations are known a priori, this information can be further processed to estimate the user position and orientation. In addition to the positioning method, different sound signaling systems for anchor sound sources are also studied.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 6 publications:

  1. Marko Hiipakka, Miikka Tikander, and Matti Karjalainen. 2009. Modeling of external ear acoustics for insert headphone usage. Espoo, Finland. 25 pages. Helsinki University of Technology, Department of Signal Processing and Acoustics, Report 12. Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, submitted for publication.
  2. Miikka Tikander, Matti Karjalainen, and Ville Riikonen. 2008. An augmented reality audio headset. In: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Digital Audio Effects (DAFx 2008). Espoo, Finland. 1-4 September 2008, pages 181-184.
  3. Miikka Tikander. 2009. Usability issues in listening to natural sounds with an augmented reality audio headset. Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, volume 57, number 6, pages 430-441.
  4. Miikka Tikander. 2005. Sound quality of an augmented reality audio headset. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Digital Audio Effects (DAFx 2005). Madrid, Spain. 20-22 September 2005, pages 178-181.
  5. Matti Karjalainen, Miikka Tikander, and Aki Härmä. 2004. Head-tracking and subject positioning using binaural headset microphones and common modulation anchor sources. In: Proceedings of the 29th IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP 2004). Montreal, Canada. 17-21 May 2004, volume 4, pages 181-184.
  6. Miikka Tikander, Aki Härmä, and Matti Karjalainen. 2003. Binaural positioning system for wearable augmented reality audio. In: Proceedings of the 2003 IEEE Workshop on Applications of Signal Processing to Audio and Acoustics (WASPAA 2003). New Paltz, New York, USA. 19-22 October 2003, pages 153-156.

Errata of publications 5 and 6

Keywords: augmented reality audio, headset, modeling, positioning, head tracking, usability

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© 2009 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26