The Hypersonic Soundbeam

“After years of reading puff pieces about the coming of the “Hypersonic Soundbeam,” a device designed to send targeted blasts of sound waves that can be heard only be selected recipients in an audio environment, it has apparently made its debut in the public sphere, right here in New York. As part of a billboard marketing campaign for a television show. A&E has placed a billboard (on Prince St. between Mulberry and Mott) that shoots sound waves designed to resonate against your head, giving the passerby a distinct feeling that the advertisement is arising from within their skull. The television show is is about ghosts, so that means this is a witty kind of progressive marketing stunt and not just totally fucking creepy, right?Aminuts_3IRI Technologies, one of the many companies vending this device to the industry, highlights the invention’s utility like so: “The Hypersonic Sound Waves travel silently through space, up to 300 feet away, then convert into an instant sound source whatever surface [including your skull! -ed.] they impact. Amazingly, if you aim this magical device at a person, their head will become a speaker, and they will hear your message “inside” their head.”

The patent owner of this little baby is an American Solo Maverick Inventor in the old model – he cooked this idea up and built a prototype without the help of a corporate research team. Woody Norris is, as an interview posted to his website will have you know, “no techno nerd.” And he’s humble about the source of his inspirations, observing that, “I didn’t invent that [medical sonar imaging device]. It happens and I observed it. And so I claimed it. You know what inventing is — I heard this from somebody else — ‘It’s an accident observed.”

(via WFMU’s Beware of the Blog)

(WSJ Article on Woody Norris via Woody Norris’ blog)


  1. Oh that’s just fucking great. Really, this is all we need. It’s a pretty cool concept, but the idea of it being misused by somebody other than me, just gives me a bad feeling.

  2. There is a spot in downtown Portland Oregon USA that has this effect. I know where it is. I know.

  3. You know this isn’t hypersonic sound at all, but the Audio Spotlight by Holosonics. It was invented at MIT, not by Norris.

  4. Thanks for the correction, John. I saw that in the comments section after I posted. And I have to agree that this is pretty scary shit. I don’t doubt that it’s probably been in use for longer than we’ve been aware of. Walking in the city I pass a few ‘buzzing’, or noisy billboards quite often.

  5. Can’t wait to see how this is misapplied:

    1. Number of schizophrenics or people hearing voices in their heads go up;

    2. Can’t escape advertising in public, even with headphones or ear plugs;

    3. People being startled or distracted and then having accidents;

    4. etc. etc. etc.

  6. You know what needs to be done? Someone needs to get one of those, hunt down the people that use them for advertising.. and get them back. Hehe.

  7. This would make an awesome alarm clock.

  8. Hmmm… it would be ironic if those that use this method of advertising had to pass one of their billboards everyday on their way to work, wouldn’t it? Maybe a boycott of the products that use this? The disturbing thing would be to see it used for politicians and referendums during elections. They might be in use right now, more than we know. I’m willing to BET someone invents a device to block the effects of this.

  9. add that to

    and everything the ‘conspiracy theorists’ has been saying about project blue beam starts to sound a lot less crazy.

  10. Thanks for the great link, Wes! Alright all you outside-the-box Technoccult inventors out there. I see a future market…

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