Wednesday, October 20, 2010

AudioScope Zooms In On Sound

This is really cool, and not just because they used a Phoenix Suns game to demonstrate it. (Transcript below. Note: I did the transcript myself with Scotty's help, so it may not be perfect.)

TRANSCRIPT: You can now use a new system to zoom in on sound at a specific location. It uses 300 microphones and a video camera positioned on the ceiling. Now the system is turned on and zooms in on the players' reactions.  (Shouts) (Whistle) "Ah, come on!" (Buzzer) Here's what it sounds like near the referee. "That's an inadvertent whistle. It's gonna be a jump ball." Or close to the coach. "That's a bad call!" (Popping sound) Did you notice the bubblegum? (Popping sound)

This is a new technology called AudioScope. It was designed by two physicists, who were experimenting with sonar before they came up with this new technology. It's demonstrated above at a Suns-Lakers basketball game. 300 microphones and a video camera are suspended above the court. The software is used to calculate the time it will take for sound to reach each microphone.

I really love the idea of being able to hear things like this in crowded sports stadiums, lecture halls, etc. It seems like it would be more effective than a typical microphone and could be used during large Q&A sessions, for example. Very neat.

The two physicists have started a company called Squarehead Technology to market the new tech.

Read more at New Scientist and Boing Boing.

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