Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Acoustics

A newly developed acoustic rectifier could improve the image quality of sonograms (Photo: ...

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

A new algorithmic system that automatically identifies underwater sounds in real time has ...

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

NPL's three-dimensional model ear

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

The solar-powered tuner is available in a number of brightly colored silicon skins

When not in use, a guitar tuner is unlikely to see the light of day and is destined to spend much of its life inside a gig bag or hard case. But not giving Tascam's new tuner access to nice, bright sunlight is very bad form indeed. The battery inside the tiny TC-1S is solar charged so if it goes flat, then so do you...  Read More

The AudioScope microphone dish

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

TouchDevice brings touchscreen capabilities to older mobile phones

Too embarrassed to pull out your ancient, non-touchscreen mobile phone in front of your smartphone-toting friends? Sick of the sniggers and jeers as you search through your contacts using – gasp – buttons!? Desperately want to join the “in” touchscreen crowd but are still stuck in a contract that’s you can’t afford to break? Relax. New software, called TouchDevice, can give touchscreen capabilities to an ordinary mobile phone by using the phone’s microphone. In fact, it can even extend the touch surface beyond the screen to include the entire phone’s casing.  Read More

One of the sound-generating carbon nanotube sheets

Two years ago, Chinese scientists coated one side of a flag with a thin sheet of nanotubes, then played a song using the flapping sheet-coated flag as a speaker. It was a demonstration of flexible speaker technology, in which nanotubes can be made to generate sound waves via a thermoacoustic effect – every time an electrical pulse is sent through the microscopic layer of nanotubes, it causes the air around them to heat up, which in turn creates a sound wave. Now, an American scientist has taken that technology underwater, where he claims it could allow submariners to detect other submarines, and to remain hidden themselves.  Read More

Made to withstand use on the road while being instrument-finish friendly, the StroboClip t...

Tuner manufacturing veteran Peterson Electro-Musical Products has been helping musicians keep their instruments in check since 1948, and introduced the first true bypass strobe tuner in 2004. Responding to requests from players for a snap-on tuner, the company has announced the StroboClip. The handy tuner benefits from 0.1 cent accuracy, exclusive presets for a variety of stringed and non-stringed instruments, a sturdy, road-friendly design and a pivoted clear screen that makes for easy viewing.  Read More

The SHamp fits in the sound hole of most acoustic guitars

Guitarists who like to bring a little music to city streets and maybe make a bit of extra cash on the side face the problem of having their tunes drowned out by traffic noise or carried away on the wind. Traditional amplifiers requiring a power source are no help and while there are battery-powered units around, we don’t think any are as elegant or convenient as the solution developed by Laurie Nicoll of Victoria, Australia. His sound hole amplifier, or “SHamp” is a compact amplifier that fits into the sound hole of an acoustic guitar to give it that bit of extra oomph when you need it.  Read More

MIT researchers are developing 'functional fibers' that can detect and produce sound (Imag...

We all know of optical fibers, the filaments of glass that carry data in the form of light pulses and enable the high-speed global telecommunications networks we take for granted today. For the past decade, Yoel Fink has been working at MIT to develop fibers with ever more sophisticated properties which enable fabrics to interact with their environment. Fink and his collaborators have now announced a new milestone on the path to functional fibers – fibers that can detect and produce sound.  Read More

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