Well, it's no Bowel Disruptor...

SpeechJammer: A System Utilizing Artificial Speech Disturbance with Delayed Auditory Feedback

Abstract: In this paper we report on a system, "SpeechJammer", which can be used to disturb people's speech. In general, human speech is jammed by giving back to the speakers their own utterances at a delay of a few hundred milliseconds. This effect can disturb people without any physical discomfort, and disappears immediately by stop speaking. Furthermore, this effect does not involve anyone but the speaker. We utilize this phenomenon and implemented two prototype versions by combining a direction-sensitive microphone and a direction-sensitive speaker, enabling the speech of a specific person to be disturbed. We discuss practical application scenarios of the system, such as facilitating and controlling discussions. Finally, we argue what system parameters should be examined in detail in future formal studies based on the lessons learned from our preliminary study.

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15 Responses:

  1. Ben Brockert says:

    Two questions: where can I buy one, and where can I buy one.

    • chris t says:

      Well, you could try using a USB microphone under Linux.

      • Ben Brockert says:

        jwz, you should publish a paper on the half life of "you should try linux" replies to any given blog post.

        • Nick Lamb says:

          I don't think this one counts, I'm not completely sure if you got the intended joke. chris t (presumably the space matters a lot there) is implying that the Linux USB audio stack has such bad latency that in practice it will serve the same function as the delay line inside this product. This isn't true, but there does seem to be a widespread belief that it's true, which suffices for comedy (see every joke ever about women driving motor vehicles).

      • tjic says:

        Ladies and gentlemen, this thread has just been Won.

        No further comments are necessary.

  2. Nick Thompson says:

    At the college radio station where my girlfriend worked, they would haze new DJs by patching in a short mic delay halfway through their first on-air shift.

  3. Adolf Osborne says:

    I would like to take this opportunity to refer everyone to the Haas effect and its obvious implications._

  4. I've encountered this on sound gigs. somebody wants a wireless mic in the audience, or some other place that's far from the loudspeakers, and then anyone using the mic speaks really really slowly, as they wait for their own delayed, amplified voice to finish before they start the next word, or in some cases, even the next syllable.. This can start at a mere 50' from the speakers, though at 100-200', it's really pronounced. Amusingly, people extend the pauses for commas and periods, despite the already slowed and delayed speaking pace.

    "hello everbody, and welcome to the show"
    becomes
    "hello....Evry....body........and....wel...come....to...the...show"
    "...hello....Evry....body........and....we...come....to...the...show"

  5. Lauro Moura says:

    There was an interview with a brazilian nutritionist that went viral a few years ago due to this. The audio feedback was slightly delayed and she sounded like stuttering.

    Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4ACWmmz29Q

  6. phuzz says:

    I wasn't too interested in this, until I realised that it might work on drunk people talking (shouting) outside my house in the middle of the night.
    Although it is basically the technological version of copying what your sibling just said in a silly voice.
    in a silly voice

  7. Ben Brockert says:

    There's a video!

    http://bcove.me/xpfhqhet

    In Japanese, of course.

  8. Not That Jamie says:

    When I lived in NYC, I had a completely insufferable upstairs meth head who played screamingly loud techno from roughly 11P-5:30 AM.

    One night, I installed pulleys to get my amp flush to the ceiling and set up a couple of mics running through a 250ms delay.

    It took about a week before he figured out there wasn't anything wrong with his stereo. He'd start music, stop it, I'd hear muffled cursing, and then sweet silence for a while, during which I'm guessing he fiddled with his kit.

    Yes, eventually there was screaming and spittle. But he did stop.

  9. Jim Strathmeyer says:

    Has anyone mentioned that this can be defeated by the speaker covering their ears with their hands?

    • Jeremy Leader says:

      Well, yes, but then can't everything be solved by covering one's ears with one's hands?