Brought to you by Newscorp Australia

New technology beams sound into your head

AP, November 16, 2020 6:45PM Kids News

Print Article

The prototype Soudbeam 1.0 beams sound straight into your brain without the need for headphones. Picture: Noveto Systems via AP media_cameraThe prototype Soudbeam 1.0 beams sound straight into your brain without the need for headphones. Picture: Noveto Systems via AP

technology

Reading level: orange

Audio technology to be unveiled this week sends music directly into your head without headphones or wires.

The developers are calling it “sound beaming”.

Israeli company Noveto Systems will launch its new audio technology on Friday.

The SoundBeamer 1.0 is a desktop device that delivers 3-D sound that feels like it’s inside your ears while also in front, above and behind them.

Noveto expects the device will have plenty of practical uses, from allowing office workers to listen to music or conference calls without interrupting colleagues* to letting family members play a game, movie or music without disturbing others in the home.

The lack of headphones means it’s possible to hear other sounds in the room clearly.

The technology uses a 3-D sensing unit and locates and tracks the ear position sending audio via ultrasonic waves to create sound pockets by the user’s ears. Sound can be heard in stereo or a 3-D mode that creates 360 degree sound around the listener, the company said.

An illustration of sound waves coming towards a person using a Soundbeam 1.0. Picture: Noveto media_cameraAn artist’s illustration of sound waves coming from a Soundbeamer 1.0. Picture: Noveto

The demonstration audio provided ahead of the launch includes nature video clips of swans on a lake, bees buzzing and a babbling brook, where the listener feels completely transported into the scene.

But even CEO Christophe Ramstein finds it hard to put the concept into words. “The brain doesn’t understand what it doesn’t know,” he said.

In a Noveto demonstration conducted via Zoom from Tel Aviv, Israel, SoundBeamer Product Manager Ayana Wallwater was unable to hear the sound of gunshots on a gaming demo.

That’s the point. But she does get to enjoy the reactions of people trying the software for the first time.

“Most people just say, ‘Wow, I really don’t believe it,’” she said.

“You don’t believe it because it sounds like a speaker, but no one else can hear it … it’s supporting you and you’re in the middle of everything. It’s happening around you.”

By changing a setting, the sound can follow a listener around when they move their head. It’s also possible to move out of the beam’s path and hear nothing at all.

“You don’t need to tell the device where you are. It’s not streaming to one exact place,” Ms Wallwater said.

“It follows you wherever you go. So it’s personally for you — follows you, plays what you want inside your head.”

While the concept of sound beaming is not new, Noveto was the first to launch the technology and their SoundBeamer 1.0 desktop device will be the first product for the public to buy.

A smaller version of the prototype* will be ready for release in time for Christmas 2021.

After his first listening experience Mr Ramstein asked himself how it was different from other audio devices.

“You know, I was trying to think how we compare sound beaming with any other inventions in history. And I think the only one that came to mind is … the first time I tried the iPod I was like, ‘Oh, my God. What’s that?’ I think sound beaming is something that is as disruptive as that. There’s something to be said about it doesn’t exist before. There’s the freedom of using it. And it’s really amazing.”

GLOSSARY

  • colleagues: workmates
  • prototype: early sample or model not for sale

EXTRA READING

Meet the hologram you can see, hear, feel

Young people need to turn down the music

Scientists to make the Murray River sing

NASA’s incredible supersonic jet surprise

QUICK QUIZ

  1. Describe this invention and how it works.
  2. What are three kinds of audio you could listen to with it?
  3. What is it called?
  4. What is a prototype?
  5. When will a version be for sale?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Christmas Catalogue
A smaller version of this prototype of SoundBeamer 1.0 desktop device will be available in time for Christmas in 2021. Although it is still a while away, create a pamphlet to advertise this product for the 2021 Christmas sales. As it is a relatively new product you will need to explain what the product is, who created it, how it works, some of the advantages of it compared to traditional headphones, how much it costs and where it is available from. Use the article to help you find some details although you may have to make some of them up. As it will be a different version to the SoundBeamer 1.0 you can give it another name.

Time: allow 45 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, The Arts – Visual Arts, Critical and Creative thinking

2. Extension
The concept of how this works is quite difficult to understand. Sometimes a diagram can help.

Draw a diagram that shows how the SoundBeamer transmits sound to a person’s ear but not to other people in the same area. You will need to read the article carefully to work out how this technology works.

Use arrows and short phrases to accompany your diagram. Ensure that you can explain what the diagram shows. Give your diagram a title and if you get an opportunity use the diagram to help you explain how the ‘SoundBeamer’ works to a group of classmates or to your whole class.

Time: allow 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Critical and Creative thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
Please I Have To Have It!
Imagine having the SoundBeamer 1.0 for when you are listening to the TV or playing your video game. No more having to turn it up over the top of everyone talking, now the sound can be sent directly to your ears!

Write a letter to your parents or carer convincing them that you desperately need the SoundBeamer 1.0 as soon it is released and why.

Remember to use your VCOP and emotive language to express your points of view.

HAVE YOUR SAY: How do you feel about the Soundbeamer sending audio waves to your brain?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

Extra Reading in technology