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Insights & Thoughts

Scientists At MIT Figure Out How To Record Audio From Seeing Vibrations With A Camera

By Kishore Sawh on August 5th 2014

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It would seem that the game of espionage has just been gifted a brand new tool. Photographic and audio recoding devices have been, and will likely continue to be staples in the world of spy games, and with each new tech development, that game gets more and more intense, and perhaps, more and more sinister. Now, a team of MIT scientists have managed to use their considerable brain power to visually record the tiniest of vibrations of everyday objects such as a bag of chips, or a potted plant, and reassemble the sound that caused those vibrations into highly recognizable and intelligible sound.

[REWIND: The Nikon D4S – Does It Not Live Up To Expectations?]

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How does this happen? Well, I can only but briefly and without much depth, explain from a layman’s perspective. Essentially, any sound produces waves that travel from the point of origin though out whatever fluid is around, be it air, water etc. When these waves contact another object, it moves them to the slightest degree, even around five thousandths of a pixel. These movements are tracked by a high speed camera, or even rolling shutter on typical cameras, and when combined with algorithms (probably from the likes of David Blaine), proper audio can recorded.

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While most of the recording was done from a high speed camera, shooting from 2 to 6 thousand fps, which is apparently faster than the frequency of audible sound, it was perhaps more impressive that audio could be recorded from cameras shooting just 60 fps. It really is just incredible. I would highly recommend going to MIT’s site to learn more, and I’m sure the video below will impress you enough to do it.

Source: Gizmodo, MIT

About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Michael Moe

    yeah that’s science!! ^^ :D

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  2. Chuck Eggen

    Interesting and scary!

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  3. Herm Tjioe

    Our black ops have been operating with lasers pointed at windows while a conversation is at the other side of the glass, from as far away as a football field. This visual method would add another layer of armamentarium to their cloak and dagger toolchest. For the rest of us, it’s probably used more for the business of the heart.

    How will this challenge the existing privacy rules ?

    Can Cheaters be busted on TV reality show ?

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  4. Ralph Hightower

    Without the words, I always get confused with Queen’s “Under Pressure” with Vanilla Ice “Ice Ice Baby”.

    But that’s scary about what can be heard without microphones.

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  5. Austin Swenson

    Careful what you say when you are around a potato chip bag. Or a potted plant… this will be more fuel to the fire for all the crazies…

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  6. Ben Perrin

    Amazing. Not sure how useful it is for most people but it is certainly interesting what modern equipment can do.

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  7. Roland Herrera

    Can anyone think of possible applications?

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  8. Tyler Friesen

    Interesting.

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  9. MARTIN MIANO

    *Great

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  10. MARTIN MIANO

    Grear article Kishore I love it… quite interesting

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