Algorithm Turns Everyday Objects Into Microphones

7:44 minutes

When you speak, sound waves from your voice trigger tiny vibrations in the objects around you, causing a houseplant or a candy wrapper to tremble. Those movements are imperceptible to the naked eye. But using high-speed video, researchers have been able to map those vibrations and actually recreate the sounds that caused them—turning everyday objects into what they call “visual microphones.” Abe Davis, lead author on a paper describing the research, explains.

Segment Guests

Abe Davis

Abe Davis is a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.