Shock and awe: in stereo

Sixty-four loudspeakers hang from a truss system and 80-hertz subwoofers shake the ground, blasting the sounds of combat inside a non-descript, soundproof building on the south side of Rolla.

The building is where Steven Grant, EE’79, and his fellow S&T researchers are building what is called an immersive audio environment, complete with the sounds of tanks, ordnance, gunfire, shouting and helicopters, to help better prepare soldiers for combat.
“When soldiers train in a classroom and learn how to perform different tasks, that’s very different than when they get on the battlefield and suddenly there’s a cacophony of warfare going off all around them,” explains Grant, the Roy A. Wilkens Missouri Telecommunications Professor. “By training soldiers in an immersive auditory experience, they will be better able to complete their tasks quickly and efficiently when they get into a combat situation.”
In the United States, very few immersive audio environments exist, and the ones that do are experimental in nature, expensive and inaccessible to the general military trainee.
“The difference between green and battle-hardened war-fighters is the ability to function effectively in stressful operational environments,” says Grant, whose research is funded by the Army’s Leonard Wood Institute. “Our idea is for soldiers to get accustomed to an environment that they haven’t been exposed to yet.”

9 mm gunfire

Ambient field fire

Military jet fighter

War tank fire

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