We have all had our fair share of Chatty Kathy's, either in a movie theater, the library, or even a group discussion. What would happen if someone invented a device that could literally shut those kinds of people up? Not permanently of course, but hopefully just enough to get the point across? Two Japanese researchers may have already come up with such a device. Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada have built a small "gun" that can jam the words of a speaker more than 100ft away without any actual physical discomfort on the part of the "victim".
But how does it work? The gun consists of a microphone and a speaker that can record a person's voice and replay it back to them after a 0.2 second delay. As it turns out, psychological studies have shown that
replaying someone's words back to them with the delay of a fraction of a
second confuses the brain, making it nearly impossible to continue
speaking for a few seconds-- a phenomenon called Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF). It seems simple: if you know something can promote silence then just build a device that does that, but the research has been known for years (at least since 1951) but only now is the device actually being built. Kurihara and Tsukada had the creativity to actually try at turning the research into a functional device-- and the ability to succeed at it too.
Though there are benevolent motivations like keeping a library quiet or allowing the more soft-spoken of a group the chance to speak, there are worries that the gun can be used for more malicious intentions like silencing the opinions of a protestor or sabotaging a political candidate's speech.