No matter how noisy a party you are in, people will soon be able to talk to Apple Siri normally without having to shove their iPhones in their faces, thanks to new technology.
Lead author Abel Xie at Duke University said that they have invented a sensing system that could efficiently, reliably and inexpensively solve an interesting problem that modern technology has to deal with on a daily basis adding that they think this could improve the performance of voice-activated devices like smart phones and game consoles while also reducing the complexity of the system.
The sensor uses metamaterials, the combination of natural materials in repeating patterns to achieve unnatural properties and compressive sensing to determine the direction of a sound and extract it from the surrounding background noise.
Once miniaturised, the device could have applications in voice-command electronics, medical sensing devices that use waves, like ultrasound, and hearing aids and cochlear implants.
The proof-of-concept device looks a bit like a thick, plastic, pie-shaped honeycomb split into dozens of slices. While the honeycomb openings may all look the same, their depth varies from hole to hole. This gives each slice of the honeycomb pie a unique pattern.
The researchers have tested their invention in multiple trials by simultaneously sending three identical sounds at the sensor from three different directions. It was able to distinguish between them with a 96.7 percent accuracy rate.
While the prototype is six inches wide, the researchers believe it could be scaled down and incorporated into the devices we use on a regular basis.
The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.