Turning visual information into sound

If you are an individual who talks to house plants or maybe enjoy a little gossip, you might want to rethink how much you say out loud. Even if there is no one around, there may actually be plants or normal household items capable of telling all your deepest secrets. Impossible? Not as impossible as you may think.

A group of researchers at Adobe, Microsoft, and MIT have taken normal objects and turned them into visual microphones. They discovered they can reproduce audio from silent video recordings by studying the movement of objects affected by sound waves traveling through the air.

Video processing algorithms was used to detect the slightest movement of an object using a high speed camera and extreme magnification. The object is blasted with sound while it is video recorded to see movements unseen by the naked eye. The movements are then translated. Whatever sound or song was used was reproduced by the movements of the object.

Several types of cameras were used on a variety of objects hit with sound and differences and similarities were logged. They discovered not just sound from movement but much about the properties of the object itself such as material composition. The researchers not only know what is going on around the object but also about what is in the object.

The process was more successful with light object and plants. Items such as potato chip bags, aluminum foil or aluminum cans. Heavier items such as a brick would not work (at least for now!).

Obviously, the first thing thought of was of how helpful this process would be in spying and espionage. It is also speculated that this process may be a new crime fighting and forensics technology but still is a young experiment. Furthermore, researchers are excited that this may be a miraculous breakthrough for law enforcement, military and government projects, but their highest enthusiasm is aimed at the possibility of a new type of imaging.

This new technology may be successful in identifying the age and sex of someone speaking in a room, and if vibrations and certain acoustic properties are in proper balance, a person or person’s identity may even be discovered with more complex levels of experimentation.

The researchers also note that this experimentation has its limitations but remain very enthusiastic. With more complex equipment, technology, and experimentation they believe there may be all types of possibilities for this process in the future.

The visual microphone process may leave many as skeptical but the experiments and records speak for themselves. There may be very much to learn from the objects and plant life around us. The companies also noted no one needs to worry just yet about having conversation repeated by their potato chip bags or house plants.

Via: MITnews

Photo credit: benji2505

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