Furry wallpaper and reflective floormats are some of the living room accessories being investigated by a BBC-led R&D project into the future of audio technologies.

The BBC Audio Research Partnership formalises existing relationships between the corporation’s R&D department and academic bodies including the universities of Surrey, Salford, Southampton, York and Queen Mary London, to research acoustics.

A special focus will be on advancing audio reception techniques that can deliver a more immersive experience to home viewers.

For example, the cost and logistics for consumers of arranging multiple speakers in discrete sound formats such as 5.1 or 12.1 could be circumnavigated by new forms of capture and compression such as Ambisonics and special acoustic furniture.

“As 5.1 becomes more standard and we move towards stereo 3D and ultra-HD TV, we are asking what the next big thing will be in audio,” said BBC R&D Production Magic section lead Graham Thomas.

“Logistically, it would involve below the viewer, but it’s not clear if a signal beyond 5.1 would significantly benefit a viewer, or whether they would be prepared to purchase more speakers.”

Other areas of interest include ways of unmixing audio signals to eliminate microphone crosstalk in recording and improving speech recognition to aid programme navigation.