We’ll probably hear a lot of announcements like this one over the next few days as movie technology companies try to wow theater execs who are gathering in Las Vegas for their annual CinemaCon convention. Dolby Laboratories is putting its marketing muscle behind a new audio platform called Dolby Atmos that it says will provide theater audiences with “a life-like, sensory experience” with sounds that can seem to emanate from almost any place in the auditorium. The technology can handle 128 audio inputs, and feed signals to as many as 64 different speakers. Dolby CEO Kevin Yeaman calls this “our most significant innovation in years and represents the future for entertainment sound in cinema.” Dolby will deploy it in several “premium global locations” this year in the U.S., Europe, China and Japan with plans to roll it out widely in 2013. The company says that the technology gives sound designers and content creators more control — and enables them to easily monitor and tweak the results. Dolby Atmos shouldn’t require studios to create multiple prints to accommodate theaters with different configurations of audio speakers. The company also says that theater owners won’t have to futz with the sound; it will adapt to the environment. “We have been working with Dolby for more than a year on this initiative and we are very impressed with this new platform,” says AMC Theaters VP for Digital Systems, Dan Huerta. Dolby is understandably eager to impress some of its biggest customers this week: The company’s stock price slid about 20% over the last 12 months as Microsoft decided not to include DVD playback functionality — using Dolby licenses — in its Windows 8 operating system and attendance for 3D movies fell below expectations.
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