maritime security

Shut up, or the SpeechJammer will do it for you

KD Suarez
Device that utilizes the concept of Delayed Auditory Feedback to silence a speaker developed

SPEECHJAMMER. An image of the SpeechJammer prototype #2, a device that could cut off people speaking. Image courtesy of Cornell/arxiv.org

MANILA, Philippines – Private prosecutor Vitaliano Aguirre should have just waited for this gadget, instead of covering his ears when Sen Miriam Defensor-Santiago spoke.

Two researchers in Japan have developed a device called the “SpeechJammer,” which, according to the researchers’ paper, can be “used to disturb people’s speech.”

The SpeechJammer depends on the concept of Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF), in which a speech is “jammed” when the words we speak are delayed even by several milliseconds.

When a person speaks and hears some sort of “echo” due to the auditory delay, the person’s brain gets confused, and the brain then signals the person to stop speaking.

The device works by picking up a person’s speech using a direction-sensitive microphone, and then plays it back to the person via a direction-sensitive speaker after a delay of 0.2 seconds.

This delay then creates the DAF phenomenon, disturbs the specific person’s speech, and then leads the person to stop talking.

No physical harm is done to the speaker being subjected to the SpeechJammer, the proponents said.

There were two prototypes developed, one involving a separate computer to process the input and output, while another does away with the computer, and menacingly looks like a gun with a humongous barrel.

Some applications of the SpeechJammer include shutting up noisy students; stopping speakers after their alloted time is up; or people disrupting meetings.

Apprehension over the new device, however, is also surfacing, because of possible uses that would affect free speech. ExtremeTech even said it hints at a “dystopian Big Brother future.

One “downside,” however: The device doesn’t work when the speaker utters long “sounds” or “words” such as “ooooooh” or “aaaaaah.” If ever he uses it, Aguirre won’t be able to silence Miriam’s “waaaahs.” – Rappler.com

The study can be accessed at the Cornell University Library’s arXiv.org.


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