A simple design makes it easy to experiment and learn about parametric speakers.

One of the more interesting devices that I’ve seen on Kickstarter lately is the SoundLazer. This device was first introduced on Kickstarter back in mid-2012 as a kit that enables hobbyists, and tech enthusiasts alike, to create their own parametric speaker.

For those being first introduced to this technology, parametric speakers are not new. This technology has been around since the 60’s, however, it hasn’t seen many advancements since its creation. Essentially, the device uses ultrasonic waves to carry sound to an individual or object. Compared to regular sound waves, ultrasonic waves are very concentrated and directional. This results in being able to “beam” sound in a specific direction. This is in direct contrast to regular sound waves which spread and disperse resulting in sound moving and bouncing in all directions. The infographic below helps demonstrate the differences:

The original kit almost tripled its pledge goal bringing in over $126,000, demonstrating that there is indeed a demand for the device and a need to further the technology. The Soundlazer Snap is the inventor’s go-round on Kickstarter with this technology. This time around he is proposing a lower cost version of the speaker to get it into the hands of more individuals. This iteration provides solely the basic components of the device enabling the creator to sell them at a much lower price.

The original SoundLazer retails for $275.00. The SoundLazer Snap is still up for pledging, but a $149.00 pledge will get you a fully functional SoundLazer Snap. That’s nearly a 50% reduction in cost. 

The potential uses for this device are endless. In his short descriptive video, he mentions you are only limited by your imagination. Some of the outlined uses of the device per the Soundlazer Snap Kickstarter page are as follows: 

  • Fun with friends: The Soundlazer is simply a cool gadget to play with.
  • Ambient Background Sound: Put the Soundlazer behind a plant or table in a room and “beam” background sounds or music into the room. Unlike other speakers, the Soundlazer will create virtual sound sources around the room.
  • Showroom Floors: Beam important product information, advertisements or promotions quietly and discreetly to individual customers in your store.
  • Animatronics and Displays: By pointing the Soundlazer at a stuffed animal, animated display or other object, the sound will appear come directly from the object the Soundlazer is pointed at.
  • Public Safety: Warning selected people in a group of localized dangers or obstructions.
  • Advertising: Selective billboards where only the person in front of a particular ad can hear the message.
  • Security and Alarms: Clear and precise messages regarding break-ins, fires and other emergencies.
  • And there are many more uses!

Advertising is an interesting proposal here. While my first thought (jokingly) would be to hire minions and have them constantly pointing at various people in stores to narrate the customer experience. As I thought about it further, I realized there is a ton of potential here. Anything that plays sound as a demonstration in stores is often extremely distracting. Just go to Best Buy while someone tests out the subwoofers in the car audio section if you don’t know what I’m talking about. 

Imagine being able to walk through various sections of the store and as you are viewing specific products, relevant details are explained to you about the products that you are looking at without being distracting to other shoppers. As soon as you exit the projection zone, the sound is gone and you’re on your merry shopping way. I think there is massive opportunity in the area of in-store advertising. 

I personally want one of the devices simply so that I can mess with people. (Confession, I tend to be a bit of a prankster) I would truly enjoy helping someone feel like they are losing their minds (primarily individuals in need of a bit more humility) by beaming annoying sound at their head that nobody else can hear. I would of course let them know prior to a doctor’s visit, but that would be hilarious! This also has the potential to introduce a new kind of ventriloquism. Record your skit, point it at your puppet, and entertain away. BLOW PEOPLES’ MINDS!

There is a ton of potential in this devices, especially if you geek out on this stuff like me. What are your thoughts on the device? How would you use it? Let us know in the comments below!