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— Science

Acoustic diode allows sound waves to only travel in one direction

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. Read More
— Around The Home

Philips to develop LED-illuminated wallpapers

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. Read More
— Music

iBamboo speaker: the Zen of iPhone docks

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. Read More
— Good Thinking

Sound-absorbing curtains let the light shine through

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. Read More
— Mobile Technology

dB Cases provide simple solution for upping iPhone audio

If you’re looking to give your iPhone 4 a boost in the speaker department there’s no shortage of docks on the market to do the job. As portable as many of these solutions may be, they can’t compare to the exceptionally simple and seemingly effective solution hit upon by audio enthusiast Rudy James. Looking to squeeze out every last decibel from his iPhone, James decided to create a protective case that directs the sound from the iPhone 4’s down-facing speakers out towards the user. Read More
— Medical

Acoustic rectifier improves quality of ultrasound images

Sonography, or ultrasound imaging, is commonly used for diagnostic and therapeutic applications – the best-known example being photos and videos of developing fetuses that expectant parents excitedly wave around. Because ultrasound relies on sound waves being sent into the body and then reflected back to create the image, the interference creating by these waves meeting causes some degradation of image brightness and resolution. In order to enable stronger, sharper medical imaging, scientists at Nanjing University in China have developed an "acoustic rectifier" that forces sound waves to travel in only one direction. Read More
— Science

New system automatically classifies undersea noises in real time

It’s always upsetting to hear about whales beaching themselves, and one of the leading theories on the phenomenon suggests that it may sometimes be due to noise pollution in the oceans. Whales navigate and communicate via sound, so it’s entirely possible that human-introduced noises (such as those produced by ships, oil rigs, or naval navigational beacons) could confuse them, and throw them off course – it has even been posited that noises such as military sonar could deafen or kill them. In an effort to better understand the link between ocean noises and whale well-being, researchers from Spain’s Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) have developed a first-ever system that identifies undersea sounds – both human and cetacean – in real time. Read More
— Science

Setting a new standard for 3D model ears

When devices such as telephone handsets, headsets, headphones, hearing aids and hearing protectors are electro-acoustically tested, mannequins known as Head and Torso Simulators (HATS) are used to replicate the upper part of the human body. They allow researchers to simulate Head Related Transfer Function, which is the process by which sounds are changed by the time they reach the human eardrum. The mannequins' calibrated pinna (outer ear) simulators have traditionally been represented through a series of two-dimensional cross-sectional profiles – this is the industry standard for pinnas on HATS. Now, as part of a revision of that standard, the Acoustics Team from the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have created a three-dimensional pinna that overcomes the limitations of the 2D variety. Read More
— Telecommunications

'Audio zooming' could enhance TV coverage

Imagine if you were watching television coverage of a football game, where none of the cameras could zoom in. It would be pretty frustrating, just having to go from one wide shot to another, never being able to get a close look at any of the players. That’s pretty much how things are with audio, however. Unless someone has their own microphone, or is within line of sight of a parabolic mic, you’re not going to be hearing them very well. In the near future, however, that may not be the case. Norway’s Squarehead Technology has developed AudioScope, a system that allows users to acoustically “zoom in” on individual people in a large area, and follow them as they move around. Read More