Center for Strategic Communication

by Steven R. Corman

At a government workshop some time ago I head someone describe a new tool that was described as the “voice of Allah.” This was said to be a device that would operate at a distance and would deliver a message that only a single person could hear. The story was that it was tested in a conflict situation in Iraq and pointed at one insurgent in a group, who whipped around looking in all directions, and began a heated conversation with his compatriots, who did not hear the message. At the time I greeted this story with some skepticism.

Lo and behold, today I saw this item on CNET News:

The folks who heard the ad for A & E’s TV show “Paranormal State” emitted from a billboard in New York City’s Greenwich Village must have thought it was pretty weird. As they walked into the targeted area they were exposed to highly focused sound, picked up not by their ears, but by their skulls. The otherwise inaudible sound waves are experienced via bone conduction–the sound resonates inside the passerby’s head.

The system is being developed for commercial use by Holosonic Research Labs which besides the billboard stunt has installed systems at the Seattle Space Needle, at museums, and at Disney EPCOT center.

Here is a clip of an ABC news story about use of the technology in a CourtTV promotional campaign that has reactions from, um, victims that are amazingly like the one recounted about the insurgent.

Memo to self: Don’t be so quick to doubt stories you hear from defense technogeeks at government workshops.