This podcast comes from TED 2004. TED stands for Technology,
Entertainment, Design. It is a conference that has been annual since 1984,
and has become one of the most elite technological events on the calendar.
Woody Norris shows off two of his inventions that treat sound in new ways,
and talks about his untraditional approach to inventing and education, asking
others to step up, and invent.
When Woody Norris won the Lemelson-MIT Prize in 2005, his official
prize bio called him "a classic independent inventor ... self-educated, self-funded
and self-motivated." His mind seems to race toward things the world needs,
though we don't know it yet: a nonlethal acoustic weapon that has been used
to ward off pirates, a bone-induction headset, radar that can scan the human
body, a tapeless tape recorder ... Norris' educational background is a key
to his restless mind. He's taken many classes, but always at his own speed
and in his own style, studying the things he knew he wanted to know and working
closely with professors. Ironically, it's a model that cutting-edge colleges
are now embracing.
From this talk, Woody immediately comes across like so many of us:
a holistic inventor, who gets ideas that shoot off at a tangent, from
just about any random thing.
The talk is primarily focussed on demonstrating his new invention 'hypersonic
sound'. I.e. Sound that travels faster than sound. It is essentially
a way to precisely focus sound, or as he puts it "put sound where
you want to." This has obvious implications for 3D sound effects
in virtual reality and channelled sound cones in augmented reality.
One use the inventor mentioned was the practical creation of binaural
sound for the driver of a car. This is something actively being looked
into, now. Other applications discussed include cash points that talk
to you but no-one else can hear, and television that can blare at you,
but if you step to the side, utter silence.