16 November 2020
Imagine a world where you move around in front of a personal computer in your own sound space. You listen to your favorite songs, play loud computer games or watch a movie — all without other people hearing the sound.
That is the possibility presented by "sound beaming," a new technology from Noveto Systems, an Israeli company.
On Friday, the company debuted a desktop device that sends sound directly to a listener without the need for headphones or a special receiver.
Noveto Systems gave The Associated Press (AP) a chance to test its SoundBeamer 1.0 before its debut. The AP's Louise Dixon writes that listening to the device is like something from a science fiction movie. The sound seems so close it feels like it is inside your ears while also in front, above and behind them.
Noveto expects the device will have many uses. Office workers could listen to music or conference calls without others hearing. People could play a game, a movie or music without waking up others in the same room.
Because the device does not use headphones, it is possible to hear other sounds in the room clearly.
The device uses a 3-D technology that finds and follows the ear position of the listener. It sends ultrasonic waves to create sound pockets by the user's ears.
Sound can be heard in stereo or 3-D. The 3-D method creates sound on all sides of the listener, the company said.
The demo version of the device included nature videos of birds on a lake, bees flying and a quiet waterway.
SoundBeamer Product Manager Ayana Wallwater enjoys watching the reactions of people trying the technology for the first time.
"Most people just say, ‘Wow, I really don't believe it,'" she said.
"You don't believe it because it sounds like a speaker, but no one else can hear it...it's supporting you and you're in the middle of everything. It's happening around you."
By changing a setting, the sound can follow a listener around when they move their head. It also is possible to move out of the sound beam's path and hear nothing at all.
"You don't need to tell the device where you are. It's not streaming to one exact place," Wallwater said.
While the idea of sound beaming is not new, Noveto was the first to launch the technology. Its chief executive officer Christophe Ramstein said a "smaller" version of the device will be ready for release to consumers next year.
I'm John Russell.
Louise Dixon reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
beam – n. to send or broadcast something, such as a radio signal
debut – v. to show or provide (something, such as a product, television show, etc.) to the public for the first time
desktop – n. the workspace of a personal computer; a computer that is designed to be used on a desk or table
headphones – n. a device that is worn over your ears and used for listening to music or a radio station without having other people hear it
fiction – n. a story that describes imaginary events and people
3-D – adj. involving something that has height, width and depth
ultrasonic – adj. used to describe sounds that are too high for humans to hear
pocket – n. a small enclosure added to clothing and used for carrying small objects
stereo – n. a way of recording and playing back sound so that the sound comes from two directions
demo – n. short for demonstration model
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