These sound-studies highlights of the week are lightly adapted from the February 28, 2022, issue of the free Disquiet.com weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound (tinyletter.com/disquiet).
As always, if you find sonic news of interest, please share it with me, and (except with the most widespread of news items) I’ll credit you should I mention it here.
▰ I am in my happly place when I come upon a forum of video game devs discussing the nuances of deploying ocean sounds: “The setup process can be automated if the environment is not changing, so I pre-generate zone sounds depending on the water level and placed or generated objects. If you have day-night cycle with dynamic weather conditions you have to consider more options.” ➔ gamedev.net
▰ “Cornell University developed a wearable smart camera that can detect voice commands even when the user doesn’t mutter a sound.” Writes Andrew Liszewski, “The camera points upwards, capturing high-contrast video of the wearer’s chin movements, which, after some training, can be used to figure out what someone is saying without them making any sound.” ➔ gizmodo.com
▰ “The bill would permit law enforcement to use x-ray vans and wall-piercing radar as well as voice recognition tools.” The bill in question is being supported by the Chief of Police in New Orleans. It is also a reversal of restrictions that are barely a year old. And such reversals are not unique to New Orleans. Jim Nash’s reporting notes moves in Californa and Virginia, as well. ➔ biometricupdate.com
▰ “The simulation of a medical interaction as a caring, stress-free, and even de-stressing experience may be why some people use ASMR content to self-soothe before heading to a dreaded doctor’s appointment.” And now practitioners are looking to how ASMR can play a role in healthcare, writes Molly MacGilbert. ➔ medscape.com
▰ Air raid sirens were among the early signals of the active Russian war on Ukraine. ➔ msnbc.com, cnn.com
▰ Spotify has created its first hardware device, the Car Thing. Yes, that is what it is called. “It mounts to your dash, with the goal of bringing a better way to safely stream music to drivers missing one of those fancy infotainment systems — no dashboard teardown or new car required,” writes Joan E. Solsman. If you’re of a certain age, you recall the need for actual devices in your car to play things like CDs and cassettes, all of which sort of evaporated when anyone could connect their phone to the car’s stereo with a cable or (finicky Bluetooth gods willing) wirelessly. ➔ cnet.com
▰ If you’re hoping for a CD revival, one thing you may mention to friends is how streaming audio isn’t the same sound quality as CDs. That is slowly changing, as streaming services, such as Apple Music, adopt “lossless” delivery. In addition, the company says “says that more than 50% of Apple Music subscribers are now listening in Spatial Audio.” ➔ macrumors.com
▰ “Ford is testing a new system in Europe that pairs automatic hazard detections with in-car sound effects so drivers are aware of hazards before they actually see them.” ➔ gizmodo.com
▰ “Sound radars” are all the rage among local governments deraling with vehicle noise pollution: “The sensors can detect and take pictures of vehicles making excessive noise, a problem that officials say has gotten worse in recent years. The hope is to eventually set a noise-pollution limit and fine those motorists exceeding it.” (As a primarily pedestrian, I think speed is more an issue than noise, but I defer to the locals.) This report, by Emma Bubola, focuses on France. ➔ nytimes.com
▰ Siri has added its fifth voice for American users. “The voice has arrived a little under a year after Apple added its last two American Siri voices, and stopped defaulting to using a female-sounding voice.” Also: “it was recorded by a member of the LGBTQ+ community, though the company didn’t offer any further details on the voice actor’s identity.” ➔ theverge.com
▰ Clubhouse, once an audio-only social network, now lets users text each other. ➔ 9to5mac.com