Photokina 2014 highlights

Acoustics

Moog Music is currently beta testing its LEV-96 prototype sensoriactuator

Marking something of a diversion from the company's more familiar analog synths, tonesmiths at Moog Music are in the early prototype stages of a novel technology capable of activating and controlling the natural harmonics and resonant frequencies of the strings of an acoustic instrument, and placing them at the disposal of the player. The LEV-96 sensoriactuator is currently installed at the sound hole of an acoustic guitar for beta testing, and features touch-enabled sliders and buttons for precise sonic tweaking and adjustment.  Read More

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have developed a system called acoustic barcod...

For many of us, pointing a device at an object and retrieving data about it has become part of our daily lives. The vast majority of our purchases will sport the ubiquitous barcode; an increasing number of printed magazine adverts, online articles and even television shows are using QR codes for access to more information; and most recently, near field communication technology is opening up new ways to interact with the world around us. A team of researchers from the Human-Computer Interaction Institute and Heinz College Center for the Future of Work Carnegie Mellon University has been looking into an alternative object tagging system called acoustic barcodes. The system takes the sound of a finger, pen or phone scraping across a series of parallel notches etched, embossed or cut into a surface or object, and converts it into a unique binary ID.  Read More

New software could be used to more accurately predict noise levels in a street (Photo: Shu...

House hunters could soon have a useful tool to turn to when seeking out a potential new pad. Researchers from the University of Granada have developed software that they claim can accurately predict future noise levels in a street. The system not only predicts the frequency of noise, but the type of noise that potential residents would have to put up with.  Read More

Scientists have created an underwater speaker for use in studying dolphin communication (P...

While there’s little doubt that dolphins are saying something to one another with all their clicks, squeals and whistles, we’re still not entirely sure just what it is that they’re communicating. We may be getting closer to figuring it out, however, as Japanese scientists have created an underwater speaker that’s capable of playing back the creatures’ entire acoustic range. The next step - see how they respond.  Read More

The Aeolus Acoustic Wind Pavilion

Aeolus, a fascinating acoustic wind sculpture made by prolific Bristol artist Luke Jerram, is as much a feast for the ears as it is for the eyes. Named after the mythical Greek ruler of the four winds and built in conjunction with the University of Southampton's Institute of Sound and Vibration Research and the University of Salford's Acoustics Research Center, the giant aeolian wind harp is intended to inspire the public to learn more about the amazing things that can happen when engineering, acoustics and aerodynamics are blended together.  Read More

Anatoliy Omelchenko of Triangle Tree is currently prototyping new iBamboo speakers - this ...

Anatoliy Omelchenko of Triangle Tree reports that since launching the iBamboo speaker we featured in June 2011, he has received numerous requests from customers asking if there's anything like it that's made from plastic. Despite being made from a material considered stronger than some plastics and metal, users seem worried that the beautifully simple iPhone amplification device may get damaged if made part of their regular travel kit. Enter the new iBamboo Urban design, which is shaped just like its natural elder but is made from recycled plastic.  Read More

WiSPr is a tiny wireless acoustic sensor designed to detect termites by 'hearing' them eat...

Thanks to their habit of remaining concealed, the first indication people get that termites have invaded their home is after they’ve already wreaked their particular brand of wood-eating havoc. According to Associate Professor Adam Osseiran of Western Australia’s Edith Cowan University, the yearly damage bill in the U.S. for termite damage tops US$12 billion, while in Australia they cause an estimated $1 to $3 billion damage each year. In attempt to reduce such damage, Osseiran and his team have developed an acoustic sensor that is so sensitive it can detect termite infestation by “hearing” them chew through timber.  Read More

Scientists are developing a method of treating wood with fungus, so that violin-makers cou...

Earlier this week, we brought you the story of a radiologist and two violin-makers, who used computed tomography (CT) imaging to create a copy of a 1704 Stradivarius violin. The instrument that they produced was almost an exact replica of the original, as far as the shape, thickness and volume of its wooden parts was concerned. As one of our readers pointed out, however, much of the tonal quality of Stradivari's instruments was likely due to the microstructure and resonance characteristics of the wood of which they were made, caused by the growing conditions at the time. Well, it turns out that someone is working on reproducing that aspect of the violins, too.  Read More

Bob Wiley's Ministar dispenses with the traditional guitar body, which adds little or noth...

Guitarists who travel a lot and want to take an instrument along for the ride - but don't want to risk damaging that prized vintage Strat - might find themselves turning in the direction of a scaled down stand-in. Such solutions come in many different shapes and sizes - from full size instruments with parts that collapse (like Daniel Mapp's Jetson travel guitar concept) to models with a shortened neck and small bodies (such as Martin's Backpacker) to strange-looking beasts with tuners positioned in a hollowed out section of the body (like the Traveler's Speedster). Bob Wiley's Ministar guitars, though, are essentially a bunch of necks with pickups. While there is a model with a shortened 19-inch scale neck, most of the odd-looking electric, acoustic and bass guitars sport full length necks and, says Wiley, play and sound just like the big brand models, but at a fraction of the price - and a fraction of the size.  Read More

Visualization of the acousto-optic effect (Image: NPL)

We've been following the quest for the world's best speakers for some time but remarkably, there's still room for improvement. A key issue that plagues proper sound reproduction (and thus its perceived quality) is a phenomenon known as deconstructive interference. This occurs when audio signals overlap and cancel one another out, creating dead spots which, until recently, have been very difficult to track. Now, a team from Britain's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has figured out a clever way to make speaker sound "visible" - and they do it with laser light.  Read More

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