Japanese Speech-jamming Device Revealed: The "Shut-Up" Machine
Japanese technology leaves you speechless
It always boils down to money. Almost as soon as this new technological break-through was announced - a Japanese device for speech disruption, the first question asked was, "Would you buy a "shut-up" device?" Not, "What is it?" Or, "How does it work?," Just would you buy one.
"Is it real?" might have been a better question, and that question could be easily answered with a quick perusal of the latest edition of MIT's TechnologyReview magazine and website. It seems that the device is real, and even better, works on a simple human speech function that has been known for decades. If there is a doubt about a market for such a device, just consider how many husbands have already left to check out the MIT site.
The Shut-up Device Announcement
Two Japanese scientists, Kazutaka Kurihara, of Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tskuba, and Koji Tsukada of Ochanomizu University have announced that they have invented a device that when aimed at someone talking, will cause them to stop talking 98% of time.
Building on a human trait that psychologists have known for decades - the simplicity of their device is amazing.
As humans speak they are constantly listening to what they are saying, even as more speech follows it. If what they hear doesn't sound like what they expected to hear, then it causes an automatic pause in the brain's speech process, as it tries to puzzle out what went wrong.
For instance, if a person is about to speak the line; "All good things come to those who wait," even as the first words are leaving their mouth, their brain has the rest of the words lined up to follow in the proper order. But the brain is also monitoring what it hears, even as it is being spoken. So, as the speaker says; "All good things..." the brain hears; "All good things...," knows all is ok, and follows through with; "come to those who wait." A smooth uninterrupted process.
But, if instead of hearing; "All good things..." when it expects it, it hears instead; pause, pause, "All good things...," then it realizes something is wrong and holds up the next batch of words; "come to those who wait," while it tries to figure out what went wrong. Result... mid-sentence silence. The "shut-up" effect.
How the "Shut-Up" machine works
Once the psychological concept of how the brain monitors our speech is understood, the concept behind the "shut-up" machine is so simple it's a wonder it hasn't been invented before.
The hand-held device has a directional microphone that picks-up and instantly records whatever the person it is pointed at says. It also has a timing sensor that parses the pace of the speech pattern, and a uni-directional speaker array that blasts the sound back at the speaker with a 0.2 second delay. The uni-directional speaker has such a tight broardcast spectrum that only the person it is pointed at can hear it.
In operation, whatever someone says is almost immediately broadcast right back at them, but with that 0.2 second delay. So when they say; "All good things..." and the brain is waiting to send out; "... come to those who wait," instead of hearing "All good things...," it hears; "pause...All... pause... good... pause... things... pause...," which it immediately recognizes as wrong, so it holds up sending "... comes to those who wait," until it figures out what went wrong with the first part. This becomes a never ending loop, which effectively leaves the speaker speechless while the brain tries to figure out what is going on. The "Shut-up" affect strikes!
But to answer the question...
But to answer the question; "Would you buy a "shut-up" device?" the simple answer is... in a heartbeat. There are a lot of politicians out there that would benefit greatly by having their brains forced into that speech-jammong loop long enough for them to think about what they really want to say.
About the Author
Reporting for the Daily Constitutional, and providing articles for various online publishing sites are my primary work responsibilities, but it is the freelance editorials from the Curmudgeon's desk that provide the most satisfaction. - GAA
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