BOFFINS AT MIT have found a way to send audio signals straight to someone's ears using laser beams, completely unheard by anyone but the target.
The ‘photoacoustic' technique works by firing a laser at a frequency that allows the moisture in the air to be absorbed and converted to sound waves.
The first beams travelled at the speed of sound, which allowed them to work out that they could "throw" the voice over a specific distance. Even if you walk through the path of the laser, you won't hear anything - it only manifests at a specific distance.
Even if the air is dry (hello, California) there's still enough moisture in the air to make it work, especially in a person-to-person capacity as your body spews moisture into the air anyway, you sweaty git.
And good news - the frequency of these laser is completely safe for eyeballs and skin. It'd be terrible if sending a message fried the recipient in the process. Fortunately, not every laser means certain death.
Depending on whether the signal is modulated or sent as a ‘sweep' the quality and volume can be adjusted.
At the moment, the signal can travel up to 2.5 metres (about eight feet), but the team are now looking at ways of making it travel even further.
"It is the first system that uses lasers that are fully safe for the eyes and skin to localize an audible signal to a particular person in any setting," said Ryan M. Sullenberger, one of the research team.
"We hope that eventually a commercial technology will develop."
Even so, the invention as it stands could be perfect for the next Bond film. Imagine Bond, about to be attacked by one of Blofeld's men, when a disemodied voice at the end of a warm beam of light tells him to get out of dodge, fast. μ
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