A mute button for people? ‘Speech jamming gun’ that stops people talking by freezing the brain
- The gadget fires a speaker’s words back to them causing them to stutter and then stop talking
- ‘Delayed Auditory Feedback’ works because the brain does not like hearing the echo of the human voice
Research has found it works best during a speech, making it ideal for shutting up unpopular politicians
It is a new gadget that could be straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.
Japanese researchers have invented the ultimate conversation killer and instrument of control – a machine that can shut someone up at will.
Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada have built a gun they call the ‘Speech Jammer’, which could be ideal for an unruly classroom or noisy library.
It forces individuals into ‘vocal submission’, they say, and is accurate when fired from up to 30 metres away.
Shut up! Japanese scientists say the ‘Speech Jammer’ can silence someone almost instantly
When it is shot at someone speaking it keeps them quiet almost instantly using a technique that stresses humans into silence by freezing their brain.
The gun works by picking up speech with a microphone and after 0.2 seconds it fires the same noise back to the person who said it
This technique, called ‘Delayed Auditory Feedback’, is according to psychologists almost certain to interrupt your speech, make someone stutter and then render them totally silent.
It is based on the theory that when we speak our brains need to hear what comes out of our mouths but it is unsettling and debilitating to hear it twice.
Silence is golden: This diagram from researchers shows that when fired the gun muddles the brain
It will not cause the person pain, but it will stress them into shutting up – recreating an uncomfortable feeling that most people will have experienced when they hear their own voice echo back to them during a phone call or on Skype.
‘In general, human speech is jammed by giving back to the speakers their own utterances at a delay of a few hundred milliseconds,’ the scientists say in a new research paper for the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tskuba and at Ochanomizu University, both in Japan.
‘This effect can disturb people without any physical discomfort, and disappears immediately by stop speaking.
From the back: The gun has easy to use functions to ensure when fired from distance it can accurately silence someone
‘Our natural utterances are jammed when the auditory feedback is artificially delayed. It is thought that this delay affects some cognitive processes in our brain.’
A preliminary study has found that it worked best when used on someone reading a pre-prepared speech rather than more spontaneous chat, meaning it would be perfect to quieten your least favourite politician.
But the device is not all bad, because it could improve the lives of people with a speech impediment.
It is understood the gun could help improve speech for someone with a stammer.
Delayed auditory feedback (DAF) has been shown to improve fluency in many individuals with the problem.