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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Audio Spotlight - the narrow beam of sound

I've told a lot of people about this, but forgot to blog about it. Shame on me, because this revolutionary concept can change the way we think of sound.

Audio Spotlight enters the category of directional sound systems, more precisely it creates sound from ultrasound. The result is that you can direct a single speaker towards a certain area, and only people in the area can hear the sound.

There are drawbacks, as obstacles getting in the way of the sound beam block the sound from reaching further on. There are limitations to the frequency response and the dispersion pattern. I also don't know if the system can create loud sounds as this would probably need high power ultrasound and I don't know how healthy that would be.

But, even so, the idea is marvelous. As you can see from the animation from the Audio Spotlight site, you can attach a sound to a picture in a gallery, and the sound will only be heard by the people in from of the picture. Imagine that in a museum. Or think about having a restaurant with audio spotlight above the tables, playing whatever music they want and not bothering the other people. Combine it with some form of sound barrier between tables and you get a classy private place with no walls and a lot of people. Or think of a disco where you can separate the sound of each instrument and play it in a slightly offset area so people can dance to the music equalized however they like it. Or even a club where people can hear the music loud on the dance floor and really weak at tables, so they can talk.

This invention comes (of course) from MIT, more precisely from Dr. Joseph Pompei while he was a student at the MIT Media Lab, himself son of another distinguished doctor, Dr. Francesco Pompei.

Update:
However, with great power comes... ah, forget Spiderman! Anyway, there are voices expressing concern on the evil use of such technology. Like this link here, expressing the opinions of Barry Blesser, one of the most respected names in digital audio.

Now, I guess that the best invention ever would be directional earplugs! :)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Various ways to hurt someone (possibly even kill someone) with audio spotlight

Notice how these crimes coexist with "litte" crimes to help hide a semi-expensive murder using audio spotlight, and a gang of people with not much else to do, many trianed in psychology, and acting (computer hacking and spyware too)

1. Point the device out your 2 story window and call people racial names, and make reference to their actual
surroundings, and clothing, to make it more realistic. This can be used in and around drug dealers to create violence. An introduction can even be given to a group of street people about another, simply by transmitting "John has on the bergendy jacket" (substitute the victims actual name) to introduce the victim to a pack of well beaten up homless drug addicts. You may increase the probablity of getting this person beat up or even shot. These drug dealers could be angered further by suggesting to them (still pointing it down from window ledges, working in groups, working with cell phones) that each other had found their lost drugs on the ground or stolen their drugs. It may surprise you how easily some of these people are angered in run down homless areas, espiecally when they have been kept all night, by the device in question, if the rooftops, or 2nd story windows are available). Much smaller versions of this are most liekly available, a person could even "hide out" in the bushes and do this to someone, or from a parked car) if they were "skilled" enough, while they slep outside on a parkbench, for example)

2. Pointing at the window. Pointing the device at the window (if you can get a clear and "hard to notice" shot at the window)
can keep a person up for weeks at a time (unless they find good enough ear plugs). This can lead to job loss, which in turn can lead you to living in a run down , drug infested area, which can bring you closer to being murdered with audio spotlight.

3. Moving in beside someone - The sound can be cast through holes in the walls. If you really want to kill someone with audio spotlight, and they live in an apartment, you may have an easier time, makeing someones apartment hellish for them with psychological abuse, in front of mirrors and in the bathrooms is a good place to try to break someone with psychological abuse. It is also true that this sound reflects, so if you have a decent scemeatic of the house (upstairs apartment) you can point the sound from the hole (that must be disguised, in many cases) to bouce around "somewhat". video survielance
can also be done through the hole, and in turn make the psycholigcal abuse more effective. Hidding the hole is most likely easiest in the corner of the cieling, or behind anything that patrudes out from the wall. All of these variables narrow down the possibility of killing someone with audio spotlight. Meaning never touching them psysically.

4. Taking over the WORKPLACE is very difficult, may involve a break in (or a dress up repairman scam), and a device placed into a high corner, at the right angle for above cubbie hole walls, and possibly discuised as something else, like a "wierd" survielance camera with a radar like back (when their tech is more low tech). Make sure to look in the work place for obvious looking "radar" shapes. In a large "high tech" office, this may just fit in normally and go unnoticed. Often a rumor could be spread through the office about what it was for, but most liely this radar is going to have no owner, and the detachment of it's transmitter, will be an early warning sign for them, becuase the handshaking signal will be broken.

5. Moving violent homelss people to an area (another different run down area) may, sickly enough be accomplishable with a "bread crumbs" trail of drugs, like crack cocaine, and a couple of dress ups, like crack heads, in which the rumor is spread to them that the other "fake homless people" that lived on the other coner or location were always dropping all kinds of crack. This could be even done through a gang member junkie , paid to go do drugs with the more violent junkies, supplying him/her with the drugs to make friends, and lieing to them telling them that there was a reason to move to a location , for example, drugs were found on the ground often there. This would be made real by dropping real drugs, or hits of crack there) to try to coax a set of violent druggies to a certain location, in which the murder victim lived. Then you can execute the audio spotlight crimes.

6. Taking over a speaker in a radio could most liekly fit a version of the "audio spotlight" if shelf speakers were in a room, but were not often used. A an attached radio
or stereo could be broken, by a break in, and the audiospotlight "mini" placed into the old speaker.

Siderite said...

I don't know if I should take this as a joke or as a serious thing. Any technology can be amused..err abused.

Please bear in mind that this is not some magical trick to bring sound near you, it's a directional ultrasonic beam. That means you can isolate yourself from it just like from any other sound. I also suspect that it doesn't work through solid objects like a pane of glass.

But even if it did or (as you mentioned yourself) your victim doesn't have a pane of glass due to a lack of home, it doesn't do anything different from a loudspeaker. Can you convince a homeless person of anything by using a loudspeaker? People have tried, you know...