Facebook has acquired virtual reality audio company Two Big Ears, and it’s using its platform to promote high-quality VR audio. The acquisition, reported by VentureBeat, means that Facebook is rereleasing Two Big Ears’ “Spatial Workstation” software as the Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation, currently available here. According to a statement on the site, the software is supposed to “make VR audio succeed across all devices and platforms,” and Two Big Ears developers will keep working on it alongside employees from Oculus, which is also owned by Facebook.
First released last fall, the original Spatial Workstation was a platform for mixing audio that sounded realistically three-dimensional. Spatial sound is a big deal for anyone working in virtual reality, and Oculus has been working on it for some time. But unlike several other VR-related acquisitions, this one is clearly being made by Facebook and not Oculus — the program is branded as a Facebook product, and it’s clearly about 360-degree video as well as VR.
For anyone who’s bought a paid license to the old workstation, Two Big Ears will provide “support in accordance with your current agreement” for the next 12 months. Any old products will still continue to work, and the overall experience shouldn’t change that much. But certain options won’t be available to new users, including access to plugins for game engine Unity and audio engines Wwise and FMOD. Despite this, Two Big Ears says that it “will continue to be platform and device agnostic,” not locked into the Rift or Gear VR. We still don’t know much about Facebook’s long-term plans for virtual (or augmented) reality, but this is a very concrete step toward pursuing them.