That might sound preposterous, but if you read the entire piece, I am sure you will become uncomfortable, just as I did. It appears that researchers in Japan have designed a hand-held gun that can effectively silence speakers at distances of up to 30 metres (100 feet).
The gun works on the principle of Delayed Auditory Feedback, or DAF. Essentially, this involves listening to the speaker using a directional microphone, recording the sounds and playing back the same sounds after a delay of around 0.2 seconds.
DAF- the effect of listening to your own voice- has long been known to cause stress in the speaker, which in turn prevents further thoughts and hence speaking. But it’s interesting that DAF does not work with grunts or boos.
What is not clear to me yet is whether everyone in the path of the sounds being played back will be impacted or DAF affects only the main person whose voice is being played back.
I suppose a genuine practical application of such a device might be in studios where a quiz or spelling bee competition is being held, and the organisers don’t appreciate members of the audience giving the game away with their answers and helpful hints.
But it’s just as easy to imagine a more draconian application, where the audience is prevented from speaking when some political leader is on the stage. And what if someone managed to sneak one of these gadgets inside the House of Lords or the House of Commons, for that matter?