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.
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.
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.
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.
For a good while now, electric guitar and bass players have been able to interface their instruments with computers and mobile devices thanks to solutions like the JAM
from Apogee and the iRig
from IK Multimedia. Now, acoustic players are to get their chance to join the digital party with the launch of the AcousicLink solution from Alesis.
When it comes to the sound-proofing of buildings, most people likely think of using materials that simply absorb the sound waves in a noisy room, so they can't proceed into a neighboring quiet room. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), however, are taking a different approach. They have created something known as an acoustic diode, that only allows sound traveling through it to go in one direction. If incorporated into building materials, such diodes would let sound travel from the quiet room to the noisy one, but would simply block noise transmission in the opposite direction.
The future of ambient lighting might lay in glowing walls, according to Philips. The company has announced its plans to develop wallpapers containing integrated LEDs. The luminous sound-absorbing textiles would glow in variety of colors accordingly to the user's requirements. To develop the luminous wallpaper panels, Philips is collaborating with customizable acoustic panels manufacturer Kvadrat Soft Cells, based in Denmark.
Using earphones to listen to music while on the move can make long-haul journeys seem a whole lot shorter and enjoyable, but there are times when you want to share your tunes with others. While there are numerous house-bound docking solutions
available, music lovers on the road need something mobile that's able to keep its own batteries topped up or that doesn't require any batteries at all. The iBamboo speaker from designer Anatoliy Omelchenko of Triangle Tree is said to use the natural acoustic resonance of bamboo to deliver a power-free boost to the audio coming from the built-in speaker of a docked iPhone 4.
Heavy curtains made from thick material such as velvet are often needed to keep noise out of indoor environments, but Swiss researchers have come up with another option. The Empa researchers, in collaboration with textile designer Annette Douglas and silk weavers Weisbrod-Zurrer AG, have developed lightweight, translucent curtains which are five times more effective at absorbing sound than their conventional counterparts.