Microsoft developing virtual headphone algorithm

Considering that Vista isn't exactly getting perfectly positive praise, it looks like Microsoft is looking into other ways to bring cashflow to Redmond. While we already know the firm is diving head first into the VoIP handset market, it looks like it'll also be involved with a new virtual headphone. In an effort to allow VoIP / computer-based communications to be handled without tethering yourself to your PC and also allow you to hear ambient conversations around the office, researchers at Microsoft have "developed an algorithm that adjusts the timing of sound waves emitted from each speaker in an array, creating a focused beam of sound that acts as virtual headphones." Essentially, the speakers would create a "sweet spot" so that computer users could hear the audio perfectly, while individuals just inches away from the sound zone wouldn't hear much more than a peep. Furthermore, the focused wave technology could even bleed over into the tracking realm, which could actually allow the tones to follow one around as they move. Ideally, the creators want to conjure up a beamforming system that is easy to configure and relatively inexpensive, but we're hearing (ahem) that it'll be at least three years before these aural luxuries break into the corporate sphere.