Japanese researchers have invented a hand-held speech-jamming gadget that can painlessly force people into silence.
Kazutaka Kurihara of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and Koji Tsukada of Ochanomizu University developed the portable ‘SpeechJammer’ gun that can silence people more than 30 meters (100 feet) away.
In their research paper, the inventors said, “We have to establish and obey rules for proper turn-taking when speaking. However, some people tend to lengthen their turns or deliberately interrupt other people when it is their turn in order to establish their presence rather than achieve more fruitful discussions. Furthermore, some people tend to jeer at speakers to invalidate their speech.”
The device records its targets’ speech through a direction-sensitive microphone and then fires their words back at them with a 0.2-second delay, which affects the brain’s cognitive processes and causes speakers to stutter before silencing them completely.
“In general, human speech is jammed by giving back to the speakers their own utterances at a delay of a few hundred milliseconds. This effect can disturb people without any physical discomfort, and disappears immediately by stopping speaking,” they explained.
They also found that the device works better on people who were reading aloud than engaged in spontaneous speech and it cannot stop people making meaningless sounds, such as ‘ahhh,’ that are uttered over a long time.