ear focus

Has the following ever happened to you? You are in a room full of people. Every one is talking and it is a big jumble. Then someone, somewhere in the room, says something of interest to you—like the name of the movie you saw last night, or the town you grew up in – or better yet, YOUR name–  and all of a sudden, that person’s voice becomes more clear, more prominent. It is as though your ear is a camera with a zoom lens, and you have just zoomed in and focused.

2 Responses to “ear focus”

  1. Michael says:

    Is the idea that the ear is focusing on certain sounds and filtering out others?

    I took a quick look last night at how we might do this using real-time video processing. Doesn’t look too difficult in Max/MSP/Jitter.

    Can you imagine an interface that might go along with this?

    This reminds me a bit of the visual analog. What do we use in order to bring visual stimuli into focus? Lenses. We correct for our visual deficiencies by wearing corrective lenses.

    Similarly, we have the ability to correct for our auditory deficiencies. The analog in sound to a lens is an amplifier — a “hearing aid.” Hearing aids are the combination of a microphone and amplifier.

    One way sonically to bring sounds in and out of focus (that is, if they have a discrete source) is to apply a microphone to them.

    Imagine for a moment a wall with a bunch of speakers on it, each reproducing the recording of a single conversation. You could acoustically (without any computer processing) bring a sound into focus through the use of a microphone fitted with a parabolic dish. This microphone’s signal could be amplified to produce a focus similar to the visual you mocked up.

  2. ruby says:

    i love this. so glad to be here. i’ll be listening in!

Leave a Reply