This paper discusses the development of a particular spatial display medium, the virtual acoustic display. Although the technology can stand alone, it is envisioned ultimately to be a component of a larger multisensory environment and will no doubt find its greatest utility in that context. A general philosophy of the project has been that the development of advanced computer interfaces should be driven first by an understanding of human perceptual requirements, and secondarily by technological capabilities or constraints. In expanding on this view, the paper addresses why virtual acoustic displays are useful, characterizes the abilities of such displays, reviews some recent approaches to their implementation and application, describes the research project at NASA Ames in some detail, and finally outlines some critical research issues for the future.

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