Thursday, 9 June 2016

Directional Glass - Transparent Sound - HyperSound

Window cleaners will soon be cleaning speakers - There's minimal styling, and then there's Hypersound. Nice glass.
These crazy glass speakers speak volumes - but only you'll hear them: Nope, those aren't picture frames or tiny window panes; they might look like sheets of glass, but they're actually speakers. Forget wires, drivers, woofers, cones and all the other gubbins you'll usually find staring back at you when you look at a speaker stack. Turtle Beach has found a way to ditch it all for its Hypersound Glass prototype.

The top secret tech behind these incognito speakers has been in the works for a few years, but until now only worked with opaque or mesh grilles - but that was a little bit too traditional for Turtle Beach. This new look feels like something right out of the Jetsons. Better yet, they're directional - so you only hear what's playing when you're sat in the sweet spot.

Until you've given it a try it's difficult to picture how it all works. The video above does a pretty good job, but basically, if you aren't stood in the right place, you can't hear any sound at all. Think of it like a flashlight, but with sound.

That pretty much makes it the perfect tech for home cinema systems and stereo speakers for your PC; you can be knees-deep in Overwatch enemies, or absorbed in a 4K Blu-ray, but anyone else in the room can have a conversation without having to yell.

It's not just good for gaming and TV, either. The tech could end up built into your PC monitor, or even your car dashboard - so you're the only person that hears sat-nav directions while the rest of the cabin is bopping along to the radio.

The glass version is still a prototype right now, but Turtle Beach will be showing it off at E3 next week, and will hopefully give us a clue as to when you'll actually be able to buy a pair.

These Glass Speakers Work Like Magic: Turtle Beach’s Hypersound Glass speakers use a sheet of transparent glass to drive sound in a highly focused beam directly in front of them while being inaudible outside the beam’s range. Welcome to never knowing why you’re hearing ads all the time—our Blade Runner hell future has arrived.

The exact means the Glass uses to generate a tight beam of sound isn’t specifically disclosed, but according to the company, the glass is layered with transparent films. Like other highly directional speakers, what’s being generated isn’t audible sound waves but rather ultrasonic waves. Based on other products of this nature, it’s safe to guess that as those ultrasound waves pass through the glass/film sandwich they’re modulated in such a way that they become audible again while traveling in a straight line, though the details on specific improvements will likely remain trade secrets. Acoustics is, to put it mildly, a bizarre science.

While these see-through speakers probably won’t replace more traditional options for the home market, there are some interesting applications for the technology. According to a press release, Turtle Beach may try to integrate the technology into things we already make out of glass, like computer monitors and car windshields—things that are already easy to break and expensive to fix. But heck, being able to crank a laptop to full volume without bothering the person sitting next to you would be worth it.

Similar to other Hypersound products, the Glass might also be useful for people with hearing loss. Because the sound that directional speakers produce is so focused it’s more like wearing headphones than what you would think of as “speaker sound.” For that same reason, Hypersound Glass might find its way into things like ATM screens, where privacy is key.

Highly directional sound isn’t a particularly new concept—with early entrants in the market like Holosonic producing commercial models since 2000—it just never quite caught on at a consumer level. Glass also isn’t a novel material for driving sound: We’ve seen plenty of glass speakers in the past. But the two existing technologies have never been combined successfully before. Turtle Beach is mainly known for its gaming-focused products, but the company appears to be putting serious resources behind these laser-like speakers.

We’ll know more about the Hypersound Glass when a prototype model debuts at E3 this year.

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