Hands-on at this exhibit

  • Command a robot with your voice.
  • Test your ability to locate sound in the space around you.
  • Experience virtual acoustic places.


Why can’t a microphone hear like a human? Humans have a highly developed hearing ability, which scientists are trying to replicate in machines.

In this short video interact with sound in a 3D world and find out why human hearing is so amazing.

Humans have evolved the skill to make sense of sounds even in noisy environments, but audio technology can’t do this yet. In our exhibit you’ll find out about research to make machines hear as well as we do so that voice-activated technology, robots and speech recognition systems work reliably.

Humans have only two ears but the brain has an astonishing ability to sort out the meaning of the sounds it receives. Machines don’t have such clever processing but can try to compensate using more than two ‘ears’. However, every place in every room has different acoustic characteristics, which change the sound in an unpredictable way. Our research aims to develop technology that can extract meaning from sound, including reverberation, and detect where it’s coming from, so that voice recognition systems work well in every space.

Lead image: State-of-the-art 3D sound technology aims to make machines hear like the human brain. Credit: Glyn Dewis.