These new speakers are currently being prototyped by Bang & Olufsen, dubbed the ‘Klang’ speakers they offer the ability to listen to music as loud as you want without disturbing anyone else. Sounds interesting, so how do they claim to work?
Essentially, they use a 30kHz frequency to beam an ‘audible wave’ to a single point. As we know, humans can only hear within a frequency range from 20Hz – 20kHz. The 30kHz wave produced here is above our audible threshold, hence ‘ultrasonic’. But these speakers work by exploiting the ultrasonic wave and splitting into three parts. This effectively produces an audible wave encapsulated by two inaudible waves. The sound will only be heard when it hits an obstruction (your ear for instance) and the encapsulation is broken.
This technology could potentially change the way we are able to use and interact with sound. For example, a sound wave could be directly transmitted to the ear, without being affected by any room modes. Thus potentially enabling us to hear sound, without it being ‘coloured’ by an acoustic environment. One of the other possibilities of course is a much more vivid stereo listening experience, akin to that of headphones, which in turn would enable binaural recordings to be heard properly through a set of speakers.
An interesting development in the industry, and one to keep an eye on in the future!