Over at Dolby HQ in SoMa, we've been sampling the Atmos sound format in the theater, home theater, and on mobile (via headphones).
Atmos cinematic technology creates "3D sound" by allowing sound engineers to create with spatial and location accuracy--so if a bird is meant to fly around you on screen, you'll hear its flight path even if you don't see it. Sound technology research senior director Brett Crockett demonstrated how Dolby can beam sound from the ceiling without placing speakers there (his team had to invent a new kind of speaker that operates by reflecting sound off the ceiling). And while Atmos is currently a front-end tool for film sound mixers, Senior Product Marketing Manager Emmanuel Delorme said it's possible to retroactively outfit old films (think "Breakfast at Tiffany's") with the 3D sound, though it's not being done yet.
Delorme wouldn't confirm whether Dolby is working on Atmos technology for music, but he said it would be possible for Atmos to work on streaming services like Netflix or Spotify without introducing a bandwidth strain. The latest Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, released 3 weeks ago, is the first tablet to feature built-in Atmos. Delorme said Dolby is developing a turn-key version of Atmos for when other mobile manufacturers come knocking.