Several of us here are working on the vague outlines of an experiment that would require simulating virtual sound-emitting objects. The idea would be to have a surround-sound-like system (or surround-sound headphones) in a dark room (no visual stimuli) and create the illusion of objects whizzing around in 3D.
I feel like there must be some software, somewhere, written to do exactly this - for special effects, or whatever. I have no idea where to look, however, or even what to look for. Any ideas, anyone? email me.
Another question is how hard it would be to write such a thing from scratch - the "sound" equivalent of a ray-tracer that would compute the sound that would be "recorded" at each of N points, from the sounds emitted from M moving, humming objects. It seems to me like it would be very easy to do a bad approximation (hey, 1/r^2 amplitude!), moderately difficult to do taking a little more physics into account (doppler shifts, reflection off walls . . . other stuff?) and maybe extremely hard to do perfectly (accounting for speaker directionality? reflections off the observer? appropriate interference? tons of other factors that i'm naive to?)