Neutralizing Ambient Noise & Stimulating Emotions

November 27, 2008

Neutralizing Ambient Noise & Stimulating Emotions
~James Dunn
250 magnify

We are always looking for a more immersed experience. People attend concerts where the volume is so loud that it damages their hearing; but they can feel the music. I attended a Yes/Donovan concert many years ago and the paper cup of Coke I was holding was forming droplets from its center. I’ve only attended one such concert and I won’t attend another because I want to hear the subtle nuances of music and I need good hearing to enjoy Shakira, classical, and jazz.

However, I would like the more immersive experience without the health hazards. Maybe even enjoy other feelings based experiences bordering upon communicating emotions.

Imagine having the sub-sonic percussion similar to the ones you feel at a concert, but no one around you feels or hears hardly anything at all.

Imagine being on a bus trying to watch and listen to your iPod, mp3 player, or cell phone; with a baby wailing a couple of seats from you and kids playing and giggling behind you. Distracting? Just a bit. Other places you might want an immersive experience is at the spa, gym, home, an uninteresting event, virtual gaming, at the office working on a project that has a short deadline and it has got to get finished, …

An almost totally immersive experience is possible using currently available technologies.

In the 1970’s, a company produced a bone conduction speaker system called the Bone Phone. You could plug your ears and clearly hear an FM Radio, while everyone around you could only hear a low volume version. It’s original version was a long rectangular and flexible package that you laid around your neck and over your shoulders. For a while it was popular amongst skiers. Sub-sonics could be felt.

The product has morphed into a small ear mounted piece that positions itself in front of your ear, not on or in your ear. I do not know as yet if the new version is capable of sub-sonics and at what amplitudes.

You can purchase Head Mounted Displays from different manufactures like i-Glass; with products like i-theater.

The head position sensors are built into many units, providing a virtual experience where as you turn your head the computer presents a changing view, as is done in real life. In-expensive sensors can be purchased to augment other features like hand and finger movements.

Prices range widely across the industry, from as little as $25 for a black and white monocle with 325×240 resolution, to over $32,000 for a military version with precision head movement sensors and optional see-through capability.

But a modest unit suitable for an iPod runs between $200 and $1,000 and thus provides the equivalent of a 60″ high resolution full color flat panel display, which includes in-ear stereo speakers; Nice. Imagine the quality improvement of an airplane Flight Simulator. Allowing you to look around in your environment without having to use toggle switches.

Now bring into view the old Bone Phone. The Bone Phone conducts sound physically through your bones. You can feel the low frequencies; the sub-sonics. While home theaters sometimes use transducers to provide a physical connection with the movie.

Where they use the LFE channel or sub-woofer port to drive the transducer.


The low frequency effects/enhancement (LFE) channel has been introduced [in home stereo systems] together with the current digital multichannel consumer distribution formats. A primary motivation for it is headroom. The LFE channel is meant to carry only very low frequency contents, below about 120 Hz. Due to the properties of hearing the sound pressure levels needed at these low frequencies in order to achieve a certain perceived loudness can be quite high. And explosions, earthquakes etc. are supposed to be loud. So instead of increasing the headroom of the five main channels in order to make room for these loud low frequency effects a separate channel was introduced. The nominal playback gain of the LFE channel is about 10 dB higher than for the main channels, so this enables a higher sound pressure level for the LFE channel given the same dynamic range of the transmission channel or storage media. At playback the LFE signal will typically be fed to a sub-woofer, possibly together with some low frequency content from the five main channels.

In cinema practice, however, a sixth channel also exists, but with the purpose of feeding the sub-woofer directly. Also this channel has its dynamics range shifted upwards by 10 dB.”

For a portable system this is not available. So the bone phone with a 10db pre-amp and a sub-woofer style filter, would allow the user to feel the sub-woofer effects of any media they are viewing/hearing; without disturbing anyone else.

Now couple this immersive experience with sound cancellation technologies. Like that used in small aircraft communication head gear. Or that used by some audiophiles.

The noise cancellation coupled with sound insulation significantly reduces the ambient sounds of babies crying, kids playing, engines running, … With the bone phone over-riding ambient vibrations felt by the user, and vision all but completely obscured by the i-Glass head gear; the user is close to being isolated from their distractive environment.

However, for truly loud ambient noise levels, a White-noise generator on the exterior of the headset would soften the truly loud noises. Allowing the noise cancellation electronics to neutralize the ambient sounds further. This is well-understood and easily produced.

This immersive system is not difficult to put together, all of the pieces already exist.

Include a library of subsonic sounds to promote various emotional responses. Sounds as you see in movies, provides a great deal of control over our emotions. By including a library of subsonic sounds for programming in with software media, a new level of interactive media evolves.

Now include The Data Egg and you have a virtual environement that you can take on the run, literally. The Data Egg is a single hand keyboard that allows the user to do data entry, literally while running. It was first introduced back in the 1980’s.

Various parts of this system could be put together to meet the needs of various users.

For example:

Game Designers could add feelings to their play strategies. A player could feel like someone is watching them. Or they could feel impending danger, and which direction it’s coming from. Players could feel social interactions.

Military Equipment Manufacturers could provide soldiers with extra-sensory perceptions. The soldiers could feel when entering a dangerous area where previous interactions took place. A soldier could feel when a person is not telling the truth. A soldier could feel when a person is behind them and in which direction. A soldier could feel when a person is carrying a concealed weapon. These things would just be existing detectors being coupled into a subsonic transducer and using bone conduction.

Health Professionals could be given tools for counseling. Providing married couples with a tool to sense one anothers’ various feelings while they discuss issues. Allowing a physician to sense when a person actually has pain, versus someone who is simply seeking drugs to get high.

Technicians and Engineers needing a virtual environment to quickly troubleshoot factory systems. Like the steel industry where losses of $30,000 per minute mean real savings for each minute saved in getting the system back online. All the schematics for the factory can be digitally held in the head mounted unit, with Wi-Fi providing current updates on the status of sensors, switches, and controls all over the facility.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: