Researchers Build 'SpeechJammer,' can Stop Speech from a DistanceResearchers from Japan have managed to whip up a device that stops conversations in their tracks. Called the “SpeechJammer,” it exploits a flaw in our brain to stop us from talking with little more than a directional microphone and a speaker.
Because of how we think, if we have our words transmitted back to us with a millisecond delay, we get hit with cognitive dissonance. That tiny delay between talking and hearing causes our brain to experience dissonance, and it feels compelled to puzzle it out.
If you’ve ever talked on a phone with an echo you know how annoying it can be to hold a conversation when you are hearing yourself talk. And most of the time the delay in those is far greater than 1 millisecond. The short delay makes it very hard for you to keep thinking, no matter how hard you want to.
the SpeechJammer relies on this to work. The entire device was cobbled together with a directional speaker, a directional mic, a distance sensor, a laser pointer and something to induce the delay. Aim the device with the laser dot from the laser pointer, pull the trigger, and people at a distance will suddenly hear what they say said back to them with a short delay.
The paper where this device was detailed mentioned that this could be used to deter unruly crowds. If yelling people suddenly stopped puzzled, then that mob is probably less likely to get violent.
No word on commercial versions of this thing yet, and there aren’t exactly many useful use cases. But the tech is still pretty neat.
And it could give you an excuse the next time you bomb a presentation.