March 3, 2012
Shut Up Gun? New Device Forces Others To Be Quiet
Japanese researchers have developed a device not unlike a real-life mute button -- a handheld gun that can actually (and painlessly) force a person to stop speaking.
According to Martin Robinson of the Daily Mail, the device uses a technique known as Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF) to render a person speechless. Essentially, it uses a microphone to detect speech, and then shoots the same noise back to the source -- the person who said it -- two-tenths of a second later.He says that psychologists believe that when a person hears the exact same words they just said repeated, they stutter and are ultimately forced into what the creators of the gizmo call "vocal submission."
"It is based on the theory that when we speak our brains need to hear what comes out of our mouths but it is unsettling and debilitating to hear it twice," Robinson wrote on Friday. "It will not cause the person pain, but it will stress them into shutting up -- recreating an uncomfortable feeling that most people will have experienced when they hear their own voice echo back to them during a phone call or on Skype."
The device is known as the "Speech Jammer" and was invented by Kazutaka Kurihara of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and Koji Tsukada of Ochanomizu University, according to Newscore reports. It can silence people up to 30 meters or 100 feet away, and is said to be ideal for libraries, classrooms, and other spaces where talking is discouraged or prohibited.
"In general, human speech is jammed by giving back to the speakers their own utterances at a delay of a few hundred milliseconds," Newscore quoted Kurihara and Tsukada as writing in a paper describing their invention. "This effect can disturb people without any physical discomfort, and disappears immediately by stopping speaking."
However, there could be far more sinister uses for the device, warns Sebastian Anthony of ExtremeTech.
"At a political rally, an audience member could completely lock down Santorum, Romney, Paul, or Obama from speaking. On the flip side, a totalitarian state could point the speech jammers at the audience to shut them up," he wrote as part of a March 1 story. "Likewise, when a celebrity or public figure appears on a live TV show, his contract could read “the audience must be silenced with speech jammers."
"Imagine if a runaway mega-corporation or government gains control of these earbuds. Not only could the intelligence-destroying blasts from Harrison Bergeron come to pass, but with Delayed Auditory Feedback it would be possible to render the entire population mute," Anthony added. "Well, actually, that´s a lie: Apparently DAF doesn´t work with utterances like 'ahhh!' or 'boooo!' or other non-wordy constructs. So, basically, we´d all be reduced to communicating with grunts and gestures."
However, Robinson notes that the device does have its positive aspects. He states that the gun can allegedly "improve the lives of people with a speech impediment" by helping to "improve fluency" in "many individuals" who stutter or stammer when speaking.
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