Music in 2029: listening via lasers?


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Music in 2029: listening via lasers?

Will we be able to replace our speakers with lasers in 2029? That is what a few researchers from the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working on. They have already succeeded in sending sound via laser beams to a person standing a few metres away.

We have already been broadcasting music wirelessly for quite some time. Think about the Sonos music system in your business. Or the Bluetooth speaker in your living room. But MIT’s technological breakthrough is a lot more futuristic than that. It’s not about sending digital files, but actual sound waves that nestle in your ear. You won’t need speakers any more. Plus, only the person you want to receive the broadcast will hear the sound, no one else.

The photoacoustic effect 

The techniques that the researchers developed make use of the so-called ‘photoacoustic effect’. It is based on the concept that soundwaves are created when a material absorbs light. In the research, water particles in the air served as the light-absorbing material. A little bit of water is enough, and that is already present anywhere you find people; we breathe moist air out.

Laser beams just set the existence of soundwaves into action. The music literally comes from thin air. And it lands right in the outer ear. Audio messages are sent in a very targeted manner. Other people in the same room hear absolutely nothing. It’s the first time that this has worked with a signal that is sufficiently loud (up to 60 decibels) and without the possibility of the lasers damaging eyes or skin.

Personalised music for every client 

The researchers want to further develop their discovery so that it can be commercialised. They are thinking of using it for safety instructions in emergency situations. We see other possibilities here at Tunify. Using this technology, you would be able to serve your clients personalised music. You could think of this as being like a ‘silent disco’ where everyone dances to their own favourite music with cordless headphones ... But without the headphones. And not in a club, but in a waiting room, sports hall or restaurant.

You would also be able to send spoken messages, such as temporary offers for certain clients. But, we are getting ahead of ourselves; we are still only in 2019, not 2029. For the time being, let’s keep relying on Tunify, with speakers, to optimise your client experience.


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