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SYFY WIRE Technology

How taking a photo of your ear will make you a gaming pro

By Kristina Manente

When it comes to hearing things in games, a good pair of headphones will go a long way. But you know what will go even farther? A photo of your ear. How? Well, that's where the Immerse HIVE plugin from Embody comes in. It's time to game with your ears.

HIVE uses Immerse, an HRTF (head-related transfer function, aka how the ear receives a sound from a certain point) modeling engine that creates a customized 360-degree sound field using your game’s native multichannel audio and a picture of your ear. As Ira Bolden, chief marketing officer at Embody, tells SYFY WIRE, these two things combined are further enhanced by optimization using a gaming headset, giving players "unmatched tactical advantage and sonic immersion" to their game.

"Immerse dramatically improves the quality of your game audio and listening experience by providing fully personalized, AI-driven spatialization to your game’s native multichannel audio in a way which is seamlessly compatible with your existing software and hardware, and which has a virtually invisible memory footprint," Bolden says.

Finally, you can hear your Sims wash their dishes in HD and hear the swoosh of the swing of a halberd above your head in Dark Souls III. Or, you know, notice when that Stalker is sneaking about in Horizon: Zero Dawn and is about to attack you a split second before it actually does and scares the life out of you. Fact is, there are a multitude of ways to use this plugin — plus it’s easy to operate as well.


When choosing the headset or inputting the details of their headphones, players will have the game's sound acoustically tuned via a sonic algorithm. Think of it as your headset getting a serious upgrade in sound quality, giving you a deeper, more immersive auditory experience. You're about to hear every leaf rustle.

When using the HIVE plugin, there are three modes to choose from. Closer Combat mode is geared for exactly that. Best for RPG and racing games, this mode enhances sound to seem right on top of you, giving a more intense experience overall. 

Immerse mode is best suited for FPS games where pinpoint accuracy is king. By utilizing this mode, you will hear (and thus see) your opponents faster and before the average gamer. Spidey senses essentially. Who doesn’t want to be Spiderman?


Awaken combines the best of the other two modes for being able to hear near and far. MMORPG gamers will love this mode for its enhanced clarity, allowing you to truly explore your surroundings. If you’re a lover of ambient noise in games, this is the best option for you.

You can switch the type of mode of any game, allowing you to go from Awaken when exploring Castle Dimitrescu to Closer Combat when she, you know, finds you. Check out the plugin in action below.

While many would assume this was built for pro gamers in mind, Embody insists it is for everyone.

"For casual gamers, Immerse delivers the most cinematic gaming audio experience ever created for headphones; it makes horror games scarier, RPGs more epic, racing games more viscerally immersive, and is just a fun time all around," Bolden explains. 

Speaking of, gamers will love the Sonar Map. This semi-transparent overlay drags and locks to anywhere on your screen, indicating where sound is coming from. Talk about an edge. Not to mention, this is a great way for people with auditory processing disorders and sensitivities to have a visual cue as to where sounds are coming from. Anything that can make a game more accessible is a good thing, and HIVE can be utilized in this way.

It's wild to think this can all happen thanks to a picture of your ear, but that's what we get for living in the future.