Sunday, May 18, 2008

You Will Soon be Hearing Voices

Hypersonic sound technology delivers waves of hypersonic sound at a pitch undetectable by human ears. When the waves hit a solid object, such as a person's body, the waves slow down and reform to create a sound which is delivered directly into the target's eardrums; people around the person hear nothing.

A&E Television used the technology to promote their new show, Paranormal State, in New York. When people heard about it, they came to experience the technology for themselves. The advertisement whispered, "Who's there? What's that? It's not your imagination!" Only those who were in the waves' path could hear the ad, which sounds as though it originates inside your head.

While others are interested in hypersonic sound technology's advertising application, the technology is being used for better means elsewhere. The New York Public Library uses the technology to allow people standing in front of a bank of TVs to hear the news; others in the library hear nothing. Future applications might include allowing club-goers to hear music without disturbing surrounding residents, and making it so that ambulance sirens would only be heard by those in front of the vehicle. The technology may one day make headphones obsolete.

But consumer advocacy groups are worried about the possibilities for invasion of privacy. Manufacturers of hypersonic sound devices say their fears are overblown.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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