Hand-held "sound camera" shows you the source of noises


May 9, 2013

An illustration of the SeeSV-S205 sound camera, be used to locate the source of an engine noise

An illustration of the SeeSV-S205 sound camera, be used to locate the source of an engine noise

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If you work with machinery, engines or appliances of any type, then you’ve likely experienced the frustration of hearing a troublesome noise coming from somewhere, but not being able to pinpoint where. If only you could just grab a camera, and take a picture that showed you the noise’s location. Well, soon you should be able to do so, as that’s just what the SeeSV-S205 sound camera does.

Developed in a collaboration between SM Instrument Company and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, the pentagon-shaped camera has three handles on the back, and a total weight of 1.78 kg (3.9 lb). It reportedly can be easily held in one hand. Other sound cameras do already exist, but they’re generally larger, heavier contraptions that need to be assembled and mounted on a tripod.

On the flat face of the SeeSV-S205, there are a total of 30 MEMS microphones arranged in five spiral arrays. Utilizing a beamforming algorithm, these are able to detect and locate both stationary and moving noise sources. Additionally, a high-resolution optical camera located in the middle of the device records images at a rate of 25 per second.

The output from the microphones and the optical camera are displayed on a linked computer. They’re combined to show both a real-time image of the subject, with a thermograph-like color-coded overlay that indicates the location(s) at which the noise is loudest. A rattling dashboard, shot with the sound camera, can be seen in the following video.

Part of the reason that the SeeSV-S205 is so much smaller and simpler than other sound cameras lies in the fact that it doesn’t detect as wide of a range of frequencies. Co-inventor Prof. Seok-Hyung Bae explained that this is because “Abnormal noises coming from industrial products have relatively higher frequencies.” As a result, it’s limited to noises between 350 Hz and 12 kHz – which should apparently be all that it really needs.

The SeeSV-S205 won a Red Dot product design award in February. There’s currently no word on availability or pricing.

Sources: KAIST, SM Instrument Co.

UPDATE (July 2, 2013): THP Systems has informed us that it now distributes the SeeSV-S205 to dealers across Europe (including the UK). Prices start at US$55,000.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Great! There are a million uses for this which can save lots of costs, time, energy and frustration.


It would be nice if you could jack in headphones, apply filters to reject all but the noise of interest, and then shoot your sound photo.

Bob Ehresman

There could be military uses for this, as a highly portable gunshot direction detector, especially if tuned for AK-47s and AK-74s


And for locating wildlife in the night-time forest canopy without torching them


I'm sure the military uses this already.. This is probably how echo location works for bats, whales and submarines.


Home use, auto customizing, Search & Rescue, Rescue, Security, Tracking suspects?, VIP security, Home maint IE plumbers, etc to home. & Cars/RVs/Trucks

Stephen Russell

Wombat56, the DOD currently utilizes sound triangulation technology to pinpoint sniper location, etc.

Norman Welch

Yes, I'm aware the military already uses sound location tech, but how big is it and how much setting up and calibration is required?

You could possibly just mount one of these (or several) on a vehicle and get instant feedback about incoming rounds, or it may be capable of being carried by a soldier in a firefight.


I'll be impressed when they can incorporate something like this into Google Glasses!

Salem Lowe
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