Saturday, March 3, 2012

An EPJ Contributor Tests the Speech Jamming Device

Hans Palmstierna an occasional contributor to EPJ reports on his testing of the speech jammer:

I have actually experimented with this exact mechanism - trying to read or say something while having your own voice played back to you with a slight delay. I can confirm that it is more or less impossible to get through an entire sentence without very serious preparation and concentration. If you focus hard enough on saying the sentence in one burst, and simultaneously prepare yourself to try and block out anything you hear (sort of like when you are shouting in a noisy environment) you might get something vaguely understandable out.

What is most annoying (or hilarious when you try it) is that as you are speaking, you start somehow modulating what you are saying to what you are hearing, making it sound sort of like this :

"I caaooounnooouut cooaaaummpplaaaulleetetettet acaaocufufufufaull seaufufufusentenullece" (I cant complete a full sentence)

I suspect however that this gadget won't work very well in overly noisy environments, because the whole effect (if I have understood the science correctly) is that we are used to hearing our own voice resonating in our head, but it all goes whack when we hear it too late. However, if there is a lot of other noise then it is probably easier to ignore what is being played back at you.

Also, it may be possible to fire back at such a gadget by creating a feedback loop (like when you hold an electric guitar too close to an amplifier).


  1. The interesting thing is that if you stutter there is a device like a hearing aid that does something very similar, play your own voice back in your ear at a very slight delay. For some reason this helps a person who stutters achieve more speech fluency.

  2. It is probably out of interest to note that the commenters in the original post found a rather good way to protect yourself against this weapon : Earplugs :)

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  4. Wonder if this was used in the US if it would be a 1st Amendment violation.

  5. I'm not so certain about the ear plugs idea working. I've worked in noisy factories while using them, the ear plugs muffle loud noises but voices come through pretty good. Who knows though,... somebody does I'm sure.

  6. Remember last year when all the reporters were "jibbering" and looked like idiots? Everyone called conspiracy theories when any type of weapon was postulated....

  7. @ Bowtie,

    Only if the government uses it. But if someone is shooting air, water, fire, sound waves, I think there is grounds of assault and battery.

  8. At the very least, you could create a Bose-type headset that cancelled the delayed feedback.

    Also, I suspect that one could practice a bit and be able to talk with the delay in your ear.