Virtual microphone can “zoom” in on a source.

AUTHOR: Inavate

Physicists Morgan Kjølerbakken and Vibeke Jahr, formerly at the University of Oslo, Norway, were working on sonar technology when they came up with the idea for what they call a supermicrophone, now named the AudioScope. The first design, aimed at videoconferencing applications, was shown at ISE 2010 and nominated for an InAVation Award. The technology has now evolved and it could easily be applied to venues such as conference centres or houses of worship.

The device is made up of around 300 microphones arranged in a fixed circular array. They are used in conjunction with a wide-angle camera that can zoom in to any position on the pitch. Because the camera is also fixed, it can be calibrated to zoom in to any location within its range.The AudioScope software then calculates the time it would take for sound emanating from that point to reach each microphone in the circular array, and digitally corrects each audio feed to synchronise them with that spot.Its latest incarnation is being marketed to sports broadcasters in the USA, as it is capable of zooming in on a particular spot in a crowded arena and picking out a conversation – perhaps between officials.That idea has received mixed feedback from players however!

The New Scientist has a video demonstration of the technology: