Optical microphone sees sound like never before

A camera system can see sound vibrations with such precision and detail that it can reconstruct the music of a single instrument in a band or orchestra. Even the most high-powered and directed microphones can’t eliminate nearby sounds, ambient noise and the effect of acoustics when they capture audio. The novel system uses two cameras and a laser to sense high-speed, low-amplitude surface vibrations. These vibrations can be used to reconstruct sound, capturing isolated audio without inference or a microphone. ‘We’ve invented a new way to see sound,’ said Mark Sheinin, a post-doctoral research associate at the Illumination and Imaging Laboratory (ILIM) in the RI.

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