Quiet! I was talking!

By Aimee Whitcroft 02/03/2012

Because there simply aren’t enough real problems which science could tackle, Japanese scientists have unleashed the newest weapon in the war for airspace in a conversation.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen: allow me to introduce the SpeechJammer.  In essence, a directional mic takes a recording of what the sinning conversationalist is saying, and the plays it back to them with a direction-sensitive speaker, with a delay of 2 (or so) hundred milliseconds. 0.2 seconds, in other words.

This has the effect of shutting the person up. If you don’t believe me (or them) – ever been on Skype and had a delay plus hearing your voice repeated back at you? An the fact that it made saying anything further impossible?  Yeah.  That.

But why?  WHY? According to the PDF* released around the gadget,

It is expected that the negative aspects of speech…can be relaxed by the ability to jam remote people’s speech.

Negative aspects can involve someone talking to long, or too loudly or, heaven forfend, several people talking over each other. Of course, there’s no _way_ something like this might be abused, and of _course_ all spoken interactions with each other should be the conversational equivalent of Final Fantasy (or any turn-based game, I guess).

Then again, it’s a far better method of shutting someone up than hitting them over the head, or throwing your drink at them…

/shakes head ruefully, and in some amusement

HT DigitalTrends for this.  As well, at this point, as the rest of the internet 🙂


*Which document also, in my opinion, should win some sort of award for hilarious diagrams…I thoroughly suggest going and checking them out 😛

0 Responses to “Quiet! I was talking!”

  • I can remember a demonstration of this effect in the Psychology dept at Waikato Uni many years ago with a small PA system and a tape loop with the 0.2s delay . With the tape loop on, most people can do little more than stammer. We were told that experienced public speakers like politicans can cope with the effect – we speculated that perhaps politicans brains were not connected to their mouth.

  • I believe the technique has been used in the past in the investigation of (false) claims of acquired deafness.

  • Rod,

    More likely the connection between the politicians brain and ears is faulty.
    This could explain why they respond to any question with regurgitated rhetoric instead of actually answering it.