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— 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
— Mobile Technology

Giving embarrassing old mobile tech a touchscreen upgrade

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
— Military

Nanotube sheets could lead to stealthier submarines

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
— Music

StroboClip tuner from Peterson now shipping

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