Supersonic waves send soundless digital information

By Karen Masuda

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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Source: ITmedia

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Rocketnews knows not how to make scientific articles, this is a horribly inaccurate article.

There is no such things as supersonic sound waves. They use ULTRASONIC waves, which travel at the speed of sound, but high frequency.

The image shown is has simple ultrasound speakers I use, so this is NOT some new technology.

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What are you talking about? Supersonic sound. Sound that travels faster than sound. That's the best kind of sound ever!

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Keio University? wow, a prestigious university in Japan know for its intensive research and development for technology. I hope they could try researching and finding their way in the mining industry and make use of such critical metals (e.g. Manganese, Magnesium, Copper etc.) for environmental friendly technologies which can contribute not only to the environment but also to the society this is for the future ahead.

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I agree with Basroil. "Supersonic waves" is a propagation speed term and are things like radio and microwaves. Ultrasonic waves are sound waves in a higher frequency range than the normal human can hear.

Ultrasound technology. Women have been getting ultrasound scans for years. I got one when they suspected I might have kidney stones. Now we're going to be scanned on train platforms? Yeegh! I don't imagine dogs would be too happy near the train platform, either. Just because humans can't hear it doesn't mean other animals can't.

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Not helped by the fact that 超音速 [chou.on.soku] translates as either supersonic or ultrasonic. You have to understand the field to tell which one it is. Shame no-one picked that up though ... it's JHS stuff.

(Does JapanToday take kanji characters...?)

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OK, it does take kanji, just the preview looked wrong. Sorry all.

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...and in fact they're different : 超音速 (supersonic) and 超音波 (ultrasonic). I'll just crawl back under my rock...

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FadamorDec. 05, 2012 - 05:01AM JST

"Supersonic waves" is a propagation speed term and are things like radio and microwaves.

Bullets, whips, and even explosions can be supersonic. Normally you don't describe communications as supersonic, rather objects as being so. Radio/Microwaves/Visible light all travel at speeds that would actually be called hypersonic (over 5 times the speed of sound), but nobody actually calls them that because it's not physical objects (individual atoms also aren't called supersonic for accuracy issues -- not really significant until you get to thousands of times faster than sound, though plasma can be).

Ultrasonic waves are sound waves in a higher frequency range than the normal human can hear.

Yup, humans can hear up to about 22kHz when you're young, going down to 15kHz when older (or even lower in the deaf). These transducers look like the garden variety ones used in robotics, so they are likely only 42kHz. At that frequency, it's not much data that can be transmitted every second, so the claim that an internet page "instantly" loaded is pretty much bull. Just this page is 1.6MB, and even assuming they manage 8 times frequency transfer, that's just 42kB/s, and would take nearly a minute to load!

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dragsbyDec. 05, 2012 - 12:29PM JST

Not helped by the fact that 超音速 [chou.on.soku] translates as either supersonic or ultrasonic. You have to understand the field to tell which one it is. Shame no-one picked that up though ... it's JHS stuff.

Actually, the original source uses the proper term 超音波 (chouonpa), which ONLY means ultrasonic wave.

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(cough) which I pointed out 2 hours ago.

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