Nokia claims first ‘immersive voice and audio call’

Nokia says it has made the first cellular call using the 3GPP Immersive Voice and Audio Services (IVAS) codec – described as ‘the biggest leap forward in the live voice calling experience since the introduction of monophonic telephony.’

Andrew Wooden

June 10, 2024

2 Min Read

IVAS codec technology is part of the upcoming 5G Advanced standard, and allows consumers to hear sound spatially in real-time instead of the standard ‘monophonic smartphone voice call experience,’ we’re told. It is also described as producing three-dimensional sound.

To trial it, Pekka Lundmark, Nokia's President and CEO (pictured above left next to President of Nokia Technologies Jenni Lukander) held a ‘live immersive audio and video call’ with Stefan Lindström, Finland's Ambassador of Digitalization and New Technologies, in which he ‘demonstrated the distinctive acoustic dimensions.’

"The live immersive voice and audio experience enabled by IVAS improves the richness and quality of the call, and the three-dimensional sound experience makes interaction more lifelike and engaging, bringing a wealth of new benefits to personal and professional communication. Immersive communications technology will also take XR and metaverse interaction to the next level," said Lindström.

Lundmark added: "We have demonstrated the future of voice calls. 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."

The 3GPP IVAS codec standard was developed by a consortium of 13 companies under the framework of the IVAS codec public collaboration, of which Nokia was a contributor. The call was made using Nokia’s proprietary Immersive Voice technology over a public 5G network, but the technology has not yet been implemented in mobile networks.

The 3GPP website describes the use cases of the technology by saying: “IVAS will not only introduce immersion into the traditional voice service, it will also address the demand for more general immersive multimedia services. Service applications include, but are not limited to, conversational voice, multi-stream teleconferencing, VR conversational and user generated live and non-live content streaming, AR/MR.”

Meanwhile, a separate blog by Nokia discussing IVAS in general describes the point of it as: “Imagine having a call with your friends or family who live in another country and hearing their voices as if you were all in the same place, together. Or imagine walking on a beach and calling a loved one to share the richness of the soundscape with waves, seagulls, and wind in your hair. With spatial audio, the imagination turns into reality. Even a mundane teleconference becomes a lot more enjoyable as each participant’s voice is placed in a different direction, making it sound like you’re having a conversation around the same table.”

How much more enjoyable your weekly team meeting becomes with the addition of spatial audio remains to be seen, but it sounds like all this is a noteworthy technological step forward. Despite how much smartphones have changed over the years (less so recently) the experience of its once primary purpose, making a call, has basically been the same for decades. So if nothing else it might be something to point to when looking for one of those elusive unique applications of 5G – assuming you can get a decent signal that is.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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