Focusing Sound
May 20, 2003 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Start-up demonstrates sound focusing technology. Basically, they can project a sound to a specific point/person from up to 100m away. Minority Report is coming closer to reality by the day...
posted by costas (15 comments total)
While this is very cool, it's not necessarily new. Joseph Pompei, while a student at MIT's Media Lab, invented something called the Audio Spotlight, which he's now commercializing through his company, Holosonics . DaimlerChrystler is evidently also interested in the technology, which it licensed from the Media Lab.

I saw a demo of Audio Spotlight a couple years back - Joseph used it to throw the sound of a breaking plate about 50 meters across a room and down three floors, completely freaking out a bunch of folks unloading china for a Media Lab reception. Can't wait to see what happens with this sort of tech once it's widely used in theatre and live music...
posted by obruni at 10:57 AM on May 20, 2003

Finally, something to give average people the powers of Carwin the Biloquist. Use it responsibly, try not to drive any young heirs insane.
posted by Hildago at 10:59 AM on May 20, 2003

Tex Avery is smiling down at us all from ToonTown Heaven today.
posted by ursus_comiter at 11:13 AM on May 20, 2003

Now if only they could develop one I could point at people in order to render them silent, then I'd be interested ;)
posted by carter at 11:34 AM on May 20, 2003

Oh yeah, can't wait for targeted advertisements in the mall. I can see a couple of applications that might be neat (like descriptive video services in theaters without extra equipment), but most commercial applications mentioned so far seem like solutions in search of problems, or overly intrusive, or both.

If I understand the principle, it works by focussing ultrasonic waves at a solid object (such as your head), which causes the waves to collide and vibrate the solid object, producing sound. That says to me that this thing can't be blocked by headphones, because your head will actually be producing the sound; whatever someone wants you to hear, you're damn well going to hear.
posted by RylandDotNet at 11:36 AM on May 20, 2003

That says to me that this thing can't be blocked by headphones, because your head will actually be producing the sound; whatever someone wants you to hear, you're damn well going to hear.

From the article: "When the waves encounter a solid object or person, they slow, distort and crash together. The result is the ultrasonic waves re-create the original sound in the air around the object, so humans can hear it"

It would be nice to know if this is true, or just a mis-interpretation by the author. Not being able to block the sound would be less than ideal.
posted by jsonic at 11:48 AM on May 20, 2003

All of these sounds are INSIDE your head! This will freak me out to no end. Soon there will be no where advertisers can't get at you.
posted by agregoli at 11:50 AM on May 20, 2003

jsonic: Sounds like a misinterpretation to me. I thought it was based on good old-fashioned heterodyning, which has been around forever. The reason that the effect is so localized is because you're using ultrasound, which has a short wavelength.
posted by ptermit at 12:15 PM on May 20, 2003

you could wear a helmet to keep the ultrasound out
posted by jacobsee at 12:16 PM on May 20, 2003

posted by agregoli at 12:23 PM on May 20, 2003

So that's why Magneto is an evil genius that wears a dorky helmet.
posted by linux at 12:30 PM on May 20, 2003

As long as it drowns out the voices, I'll be happy.

And oh yeah, can't wait for the advertisers to get their hands on this one. What legislation will have to be passed to prohibit intrusive sounds?

The possibilities for abuse are staggering. Imagine the pervert with the megaphone, able to slaver in the ear of every woman on the block (or kid on the playground).
posted by gottabefunky at 12:42 PM on May 20, 2003

Topic previously discussed here.
posted by pitchblende at 12:56 PM on May 20, 2003

Hah! I counter your sound projection device with my "cone of silence".
posted by troutfishing at 6:20 AM on May 21, 2003

this Popular science article appears to bolster the "OH GOD IT'S IN MY HEAD" interpretation.

I'll be e-shopping for my groceries while wearing a tin foil Patrick McGoohan mask ... be seeing you.

selected quote of merit from the article:
Suddenly I heard the sound of birds chirping. The noise didn't seem to emanate from his device; I felt like it was generated inside my noggin. Yet a guy just 2 feet away from me couldn't hear it.
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 8:00 PM on May 21, 2003

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