Spatial

Spatial

TECHNOLoGY profile - audio


Spatial


Creating audio experiences that transform the places people work, play and stay.


BY DOUGLAS WEINSTEIN


Bravas pool
 

AFTER STEALTHILY DEVELOPING THEIR TECHNOLOGY with leading partners for almost four years, the company Spatial is designing evolutionary three-dimensional indoor/outdoor soundscapes that reveal the drama of sound in an endless cosmos of timbres and nuances, reflecting the true nature of sound itself. Trendsetting technology and visionary craftsmanship harmoniously merge to produce aural soundscapes that breathe, creating body and space with an authenticity that delivers a sense of well-being.

For interior and landscape designers, sound plays an important role in creating the perfect ambiance. Coupled with performance home attributes such as room acoustics, lighting, indoor/outdoor living and stunning audio visual displays, Spatial is creating a 3D aural landscape that can be custom designed yet highly adaptable to space and materials configurations, to heighten experiences and provide a sense of connectivity to any given space.

Imagine turning your outdoor living spaces and gardens into a jungle vibe, with sound emanating around, below and above you. Monkeys scurrying amongst the trees, a river close by, you can almost feel the humidity as birds move through the soundscape and insects make their presence felt.

Or consider your indoor meditation space where you can three-dimensionally recreate the sound of a waterfall or realize the lapping of waves against the shore. The acoustic soundscape envelops you, from floor to ceiling, with sounds passing above and around you from corner to corner. Your own customizable soundscapes can be as subtle or as expansive as you decide.

 

CO-FOUNDER/CEO CAL INPACURARIU (LEFT)
CO-FOUNDER/ENGINEER MICHAEL PLITKIN ( RIGHT)

Part of the magic I experienced when I visited Spatial’s headquarters in Emeryville, California was sitting in their conference room during our discussions and having a sense of well-being — divorced from the typical aural dead space of a business environment. Rather, there was an underlying texture of faint noise that wasn’t anything I could identify, almost as if it were raining outside but so faint I was only getting intuitions of sound. I couldn’t really perceive what it was that gave space to the room, until they turned off the audio and I felt the weight of dead air. It was a gasping moment that solidified my understanding of the power of this new innovation in acoustic science.

The technology utilizes the latest in LiDAR imaging and advanced computer simulation, but it is really the final result that captured my imagination. We have repeatedly stressed the importance of acoustics in the modern performance home, especially when it comes to eliminating outside noise from the street as well as silencing the mechanical and plumbing sounds of the house itself. So what do you do when you have a home that is quiet by its very nature? Spatial’s answer is to create soundscapes to fill those empty spaces with the only limitation being your imagination and design goals.

 

Spatial envisions incorporating invisible speakers indoors and customized outdoor speakers that are resilient by nature, as well as low profile in application. The beauty of their vision is that people won’t even realize a room has been set up to deliver the types of acoustic experiences that are enriching and experiential. And combining performance home methodologies like lighting control and automated window treatments and climate control just adds to the overall ambiance that designers will be able to create.

“We built the Spatial platform knowing there will be outside externality input – lighting, weather, time of day, seasons – that we think about, and on the other side it needs to be coordinated with systems such as lighting and shading controls that impact the experience you’re trying to create, whether that’s indoors or outdoors,” says Co-Founder and CEO Calin Pacurariu. “Even though we’re focused on audio, we built it from the ground up to be part of a holistic system for experience designers. So the design needs to be comprehensive, or it won’t deliver the level of believability we’re envisioning.”

 
BRAVAS wine cellar
 

I was whisked away from Spatial’s HQ for a real-world demonstration at a nearby estate with a minimum of set up from my hosts. They allowed me to simply walk through an outdoor landscape design centered around a pool house and pool, as well as gardens amongst the trees on a gentle sloping hill with the prerequisite site of my much beloved San Francisco looming across the bay in the distance.

With speakers discreetly placed from ground level to well up in the trees, I was engulfed in an Amazonian rainforest complete with a myriad of exotic creatures moving around the property. As Co-Founder and Founding Engineer Michael Plitkins explained to me, the original concept was to create a soundfield that would mask the noise coming from neighbors' yards.

 

With speakers discreetly placed from ground level to well up in the trees, I was engulfed in an Amazonian rainforest complete with a myriad of exotic creatures moving around the property.
 

And as we set out for the demonstration, I could make out the sound of a landscaping crew mowing a lawn nearby. But once the program began, I was by myself and isolated in a dense jungle setting without any interfering urban noise pollution intruding into my space. Truly amazing. Completely compelling.

The complexity of involving so many unique sounds – known as objects — dispersed throughout the soundscape is what really makes this technology and software platform a one-of-a-kind experience. As Michael explained, “We focus a lot on object-based sounds, and objects (a bird, a frog, a stream, etc.) have their own behaviors — when they are supposed to come in and do things. The stream is pretty constant, low in the soundfield. But birds are unpredictable and they come and go from tree to tree, lower branch to upper branches, as we mimic nature.

 
Delos DARWIN System
 

“Naturally, you are typically moving around the various spaces in your home, indoors and outdoors. For any site, you can have multiple spaces independently running different scenes. So it is important to have us in early in the planning process of a new build or major remodel in order to plan where speaker wires need to be pre-run.”

Another amazing demonstration was bringing a thunderstorm into the conference room. Not only did you hear the storm on top of you, close to the ceiling, but the lights dimmed and the overall scene made the room feel stormy (Spatial can interact with a host of inputs and outputs to augment the immersiveness of the experience beyond just sound). Conversely, you can have a beach-type of environment, where the lights brighten and overall pre-programmed scene makes the room feel sunny.

There are a variety of applications for this new soundscape technology beside residential properties. High-end retail, theme parks and hospitality settings are growth areas for Spatial. Experiencing the magic of Spatial’s three-dimensional soundscapes is to witness the dawn of a new acoustical treatment that heightens awareness and brings a modern, vibrant ambiance to any space.

For more information visit Spatialnc.com