Rigged with a ring of 56 loudspeakers, the BoomRoom at the Technical University of Berlin is able to direct sounds to exactly where it is wanted, thanks to audio processing algorithms and gesture-recognition technology. The array of 16 movement-monitoring cameras lets people to control where sounds go and what they do, and would selectively sling sounds to specific listeners in a crowded room.
Sounds can be directed at any point in the room or to an individual. For example, someone can simply pick up a vase and “pour out” the song in mid-air. Certain hand gestures can alter the volume or bass of a track. Sounds representing data – like an email or a tweet – fly around the room and can be caught and listen to by reaching out and grabbing at them.
Powered by the wave field synthesis technique that’s being developed at the Delft University of Technology, the system creates its 3D sound space by canceling and reinforcing sound waves. Jörg Müller, the talent behind the BoomRoom, says the most important aspect is knowing when to queue in the speakers, a process that depends mostly on computerized algorithms, which have only been recently perfected.
Directional audio rooms are most beneficial for people who are sight-impaired, as objects inside the home could announce their presence. But for the majority of homeowners, this technology could help reduce the number of electronic devices needed to complete basic daily tasks. By directing sounds to a bowl of marbles, people can easily turn the apparatus into an answering machine. The bowl could click when there are messages in it, and the user could pick up a marble to hear a message.
Source: New Scientist