SteganoSonic, a new technology that’s being developed by researches at Keio University which transmits digital information with supersonic waves was exhibited last week at the university’s Open Research Forum 2012 (ORF 2012).
By setting a terminal in the vicinity of a speaker, information can be sent from the directional speakers to the screen where it is displayed. The speaker is completely silent as it sends information to the display.
The display consisted of two panel units lined with several small supersonic wave speakers and a special tablet computer with an external receiver.
The two speaker units were on a stand facing one direction. When the tablet computer was taken to the area where the speakers were directed, a web page introduction would instantly appear on the screen. If you got close enough to the speakers, you could hear a narration of the research too.
The small supersonic wave speakers lined up on the panel act as transducers and are able to put together digital information as well as sound by switching from audible to inaudible ultrasonic frequencies at high speeds.
This system is known as a parametric speaker acoustical system. Basically, SteganoSonic takes those inaudible supersonic waves and loads them with digital information, such as a website URL, and sends it to the tablet terminal.
Currently, supersonic wave acoustical systems are used by some militaries to blast unpleasant sounds at rioters to disperse them, or as a weapon to inhibit combat motivation. At Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto, it is used for the more peaceful purpose of making sure announcements will be heard only at admission so guests won’t be bothered by them as they visit the temple grounds.
Because SteganoSonic uses directional speakers directed to a specific receiver, it could be put to use for transmitting specific information only to specific areas. For instance, train schedules and tourist info at a train station could be designated to the different platforms so that if you were standing at platform one, you could hear announcements for the incoming train and watch a video on a screen with tourist information for its various destinations, while platform two was getting the same kind of info for its trains and destinations. Unlike wireless transmission, which is received in a wide area, “SteganoSonic” can pinpoint a limited area for information to be delivered.
Hitomi Tanaka, a second year student at Keio University’s environmental information studies, is the developer of this technology. He believes that it is possible for the area which receives the digital information to be pinpointed even more precisely. Although during the exhibition, the digital information of a certain web page was received by a tablet in a certain area, SteganoSonic can be tuned to send the address of website A to the area just a little to the left of the tablet and send the address of website B to an area just a little to the right of it. As Tanaka explains, research of this kind is not just a matter of finding out how to make it but, it is also a matter of finding a place for it to be used.
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