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Japan-Update

'VR of sound' works for entertainment and surveillance alike

KDDI tech lets you listen to one singer in a group, or a person in a crowd

Members of pop group Morning Musume '18 promote KDDI's new video technology in Tokyo on March 14.

TOKYO -- Japanese telecom company KDDI has come up with a new way to lose yourself in music.

The company on March 14 revealed a video of a female pop group, with technology that lets viewers "tune in" to their favorite member and single out her voice. KDDI calls the system Oto no VR, or "virtual reality of sound." 

Images and audio are recorded on a 360-degree camera and six microphones, making it possible for viewers to zoom in on a specific person or instrument on the screen. KDDI said the same technology could be used for security -- say, eavesdropping on a specific person in a crowd.

The promotional video was created with Hello! Project, a family of Japanese pop girl groups, and features the ensemble Morning Musume '18. KDDI Research executive Yasuhiro Takishima said the system "allows you to enjoy videos in your own way."

"I hope people will experience the service and music of the 5G telecommunications age," he said, referring to the next leap in wireless connection speeds.

Haruna Iikubo, a member of Morning Musume '18, tried the technology for herself at the March 14 news conference. "It makes me feel like I'm singing in the middle," she said, "and I can replay it over and over."

KDDI plans to let customers experience Oto no VR in April at its au mobile phone shops and elsewhere. A special app will be available for download in May, for a limited period.

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