For those who don’t like chatterboxes, a pair of Japanese researchers may have come up with just the thing — a portable device that can painlessly jam a person’s speech from up to 30 meters (98 ft) away.
Ingeniously dubbed the “SpeechJammer,” you aim it like a gun and it apparently works quite effectively.
The inventors, Kazutaka Kurihara with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and Ochanomizu University’s Koji Tsukada, explained that their prototype creation works by recording the offending speech with a directional microphone, adding a 0.2-second delay, and firing it right back at the run-on talker with a directional speaker.
Our brains need instant feedback to continue governing speech properly and if someone messes with that synchrony and the jabbering soon stammers to a halt.
“We live in the twenty-first century, when it is said that communication is the most important means of resolving conflicts,” Kurihara and Tsukuda diplomatically explained in a recent paper describing their work.
“However, there are still many cases in which the negative aspects of speech become a barrier to peaceful resolution of conflicts, sometimes further harming society.”
While the need for such an effective muting machine is indisputable, the fact remains that the SpeechJammer is too conspicuous a device.
The latest version looks like a large mutant phaser from Star Trek, so chances are good that many chatterboxes will go silent the moment they see the huge thing pointed at them, regardless of whether it’s turned on! Ultimately, it could also lead to more noise than it was initially trying to suppress by sparking arguments and verbal disagreements.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2012.