An “audio radar” hardware device could theoretically bring positional audio and distance cues to both deaf gamers and people who just play games with the sound off. Maybe someone should crowdfund it??


Closed captioning (e.g. [Wind howling] or [Ominous footsteps] in a movie) supplements traditional subtitles with information beyond just dialogue.

For a movie, this information is usually sufficient: a viewer doesn’t usually need to know exactly how loud the wind was howling, or which direction the footsteps are coming from.

The issue:

Unfortunately, in video games, the direction and loudness information is important! But closed captioning does not provide this information. Even if certain sounds are close-captioned (e.g. [leaves rustling] or [zombie sounds]), this information is too vague to suggest a useful course of action.

Consider the following scenario:

You encounter a hallway lined with doors while exploring a haunted Victorian mansion. The text [“Zombie scratching at door: LOUD”] appears at the bottom of the screen.

Since you have no idea which door the scratching is coming from, your ability to push furniture in front of the correct door (and thus escape from brain-devouring) is down to complete luck.


Since it is unlikely that many games will include all sound information as text in the near future, we need a game-independent hardware device for this purpose.

Thus, the following proposal: a hardware “audio radar” (Figure 1) that plugs directly into the audio output for your game console or PC. This device would indicate the location and distance of any relevant sounds in the in-game audio.



Fig. 1: This “audio radar” analyzes incoming sounds and provides a detailed description, location, and distance for each relevant sound. Above, the “dangerous” sounds have been highlighted in red, while the merely “suspicious” sound here is shown in purple.

This could probably also be implemented as a phone app, rather than a dedicated hardware device.

PROS: Might actually be useful!

CONS: People would definitely complain about this being cheating in a multiplayer game! (Unlike keyboard-and-mouse use in console games, however, this device would be completely undetectable.)