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Echolocation For Your Cell Phone

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the map-it-out dept.

Cellphones 73

sciencehabit writes "In a few years, an iPhone app may give you a 3D layout of a room as soon as you step into it. Researchers have developed an algorithm that spits out the shape and contours of complex structures (including Switzerland's Lausanne Cathedral) using data compiled from four randomly placed microphones. The technology, which relies on the same sort of echolocation bats and dolphins use to navigate, could be used to develop more realistic echoes in video games and virtual reality simulations and to eliminate the echo from phone calls."

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NigPhone (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033963)

Where all the white bitches at?

Re:NigPhone (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44034079)

OMG

Re:NigPhone (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44035835)

Oh c'mon man! That's funny as hell!

Batman did it first (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033995)

Someone's been watching The Dark Knight...

Re:Batman did it first (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44037269)

Note to Apple's patent lawyers...

"Let me get this straight. You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands; and your plan, is to *blackmail* this person?"

but what of the privacy implications?!! (5, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year ago | (#44034001)

Lucius Fox will use it, but under protest.

Re:but what of the privacy implications?!! (1, Troll)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44034035)

Lucius Fox will use it, but under protest.

Lucius Fox wouldn't be caught dead working for Apple. He wouldn't even work for the government. At Wayne Enterprises, it was setup for a short period of time, to justify a legitimate clear and imminent threat to the people, and was dismantled as soon as that threat was gone, and no "metadata" was collected; It was a targetted search. Apple collects and stores all of your searches, sells location information to the highest bidder, and could give a flying fuck through a rolling doughnut about your privacy.

Re:but what of the privacy implications?!! (2, Insightful)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44034055)

Apple collects and stores all of your searches, sells location information to the highest bidder, and could give a flying fuck through a rolling doughnut about your privacy.

I think you're confusing Apple with Google.

Re:but what of the privacy implications?!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44034227)

Is there a difference?

Re:but what of the privacy implications?!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44035549)

see https://www.apple.com/apples-commitment-to-customer-privacy/
and then please post a link where google explcitly states it does not
"... store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or requests in any identifiable form"

Re:but what of the privacy implications?!! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44034295)

Apple collects and stores all of your searches, sells location information to the highest bidder, and could give a flying fuck through a rolling doughnut about your privacy.

I think you're confusing Apple with Google.

Google doesn't sell data, it uses it. You can decide which one is worse.

Re:but what of the privacy implications?!! (1)

z0idberg (888892) | about a year ago | (#44034477)

Maybe we should stick to comparing Apples with Apples.

Re:but what of the privacy implications?!! (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44034945)

I think you're confusing Apple with Google.

I [huffingtonpost.com] don't [huffingtonpost.com] think [huffingtonpost.com] so [huffingtonpost.com] ...

Re: but what of the privacy implications?!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44037811)

Okay so in a crowded area they will be able to use other peoples phones to locate and see your exact location. And take you out with a sniper rifle or drone aircraft.

Re:but what of the privacy implications?!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44035877)

...a flying fuck through a rolling doughnut...

Yeah yeah, I have that dream too. Some deal about the Lincoln Tunnel.

Re:but what of the privacy implications?!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44038825)

And before we got all out of control ... it's freakin' Batman. Get over your bad self, it's not real.

And, in this case with the notional technology, it would have been capable of collecting far more than the metadata. It collected everything and listened to anyone near a microphone.

Just kill everyone involved (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44037361)

Genetically enhanced soldier freeing himself using his voice and the computer in his brain:

The Human Division, Episode 8: The Sound of Rebellion

Hmm... (2, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44034003)

Well, this will be fun. Bruce Wayne is probably the only one that could sue Apple for patent infringement and win.

Re:Hmm... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44037697)

it's swiss tech institute who made this, not apple.

the iphone would need four randomly place mics on it too...

Re:Hmm... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44038863)

the iphone would need four randomly place mics on it too...

Not quite. They didn't place 4 random mics on the phone (they'd be close enough to still be a point location) -- they placed the microphones in the room.

So, this will only work if you've set up the room for it.

PRISM (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44034005)

Won't somebody think of PRISM?

That is all.

Vigilante Justice (2)

Samurai Waffle (1654421) | about a year ago | (#44034013)

Now all I need is some ninja training, and I can become a real life Batman!

wait, wouldn't that be mutant ninja turtleneck? (3, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year ago | (#44034093)

why do you think Steve Jobs faked his death?!!

Re:wait, wouldn't that be mutant ninja turtleneck? (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about a year ago | (#44036631)

Now all I need is some ninja training, and I can become a real life Batman!

why do you think Steve Jobs faked his death?!!

To become "The Man of Gorilla-Glass"??

Hey now, at least I didn't go for "Polyvinyl-Chloride Man".

Besides, even a super-Jobs is no match for Powdered Toast Man!

Strat

Google Ears (2)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#44034071)

Want to bet Google tries to use this to do indoor mapping ?

Nightvision (2)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about a year ago | (#44036043)

Yeah ... that'd be great. Use some Google goggles, see in the dark using sonar and walk through the house in the dark.

I'll still have one hand over the family jewels when I walk in the dark though, trust in technology only goes so far ...

Re:Google Ears (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44038529)

Want to bet Google tries to use this to do indoor mapping ?

At the fridge, turn left. Your destination COFEE POT is on your right.

iPhone App (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44034101)

So it will only ever be an iPhone app? FFS, just say mobile app unless there is something that will truly limit this to an iPhone.

Re:iPhone App (0)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44034129)

And "PC" used to mean "Personal Computer", not "Windows". Get over it.

Re:iPhone App (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44034957)

Yeah, except that once you put windows on a box, you essentially get a brick.

No, not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44035399)

Windows on a box is essentially a room with a view.

Re:iPhone App (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a year ago | (#44035939)

"PC" used to mean 'Original IBM PC'- you know, the one with only 5 ISA slots and the cassette port connector next to the keyboard one, not PC-XT or PC-AT. Get over it.

And the point would be...? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44034103)

Other than being cool, what would the point of this be? If it's light I can see with my own eyes. If it's dark, there are already flashlight apps that cause light (instead of sound) to be projected, and I can still see with my own eyes instead of looking down at my screen. If I'm blind, I can't see the screen anyway. And yes, I read the last sentence in the summary, which doesn't really seem to have anything to do with giving you the layout of a room.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they didn't accomplish something and I'm not saying it's not cool, I'm just saying it's useless in the real world.

Re:And the point would be...? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44034167)

You just said that 3D mapping with only four microphones is useless in the real world.

Re:And the point would be...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44034219)

You haven't done much in the home-improvement sector, have you?

Re:And the point would be...? (4, Insightful)

crakbone (860662) | about a year ago | (#44034289)

Having a phone that can tell you where the door is and what obstacles are in the way in a smoke filled room would be bad how? or could map the area of a new apartment your going to buy or sell is bad how? How about the constant mapping of a cave? Detecting shifts in foundation of your house over time? How much room on the inside of the stomach of that whale that just ate you and the little wooden boy? That is just off the top of my head. Just because you cannot think of a use does not mean someone else will not. This is really cool tech and I am sure people will find tons of uses for it. Just a few years ago no one was thinking about using the audio port of a smart phone for credit transactions.

Re:And the point would be...? (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44034319)

If you can account for the sonic properties snow, you could probably adapt this into an avalanche beacon.

Re:And the point would be...? (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about a year ago | (#44034581)

I am currently looking to buy a new house, and something like this would be awesome when trying to remember the layout of a house I looked at 3 days ago. I take pictures with my phone, which helps, but a rough floor plane would be really nice to keep it all straight.

Re:And the point would be...? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#44036785)

OK, but just using the camera on that same phone would be so much better for remembering what those homes looked like...

Re:And the point would be...? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44043639)

a rough floor plane would be really nice

Only if you like splinters. You need to sand it down.

Re:And the point would be...? (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | about a year ago | (#44034603)

Having the information yourself is generally not bad... The prism privacy concerns certainly can be a bit scary though... IE you being able to map out your house = cool. Hypothetical future adaptations... say your roomate getting a partial mapping of what you look like naked under a door.... not quite as cool.... Then the FBI having a general mapping of what rooms you go in in your house, how often... what they might skew as "suspicious activity" etc... is a bit closer to troubling. "Umm sir we could see you were in your basement 4 hours a day with a screwdriver in your hands working on something... we need to confirm whether you are adjusting a CB radio, or a pipe bomb.

Re:And the point would be...? (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44035753)

say your roomate getting a partial mapping of what you look like naked under a door.... not quite as cool....

Naked under a door, I look pretty much like any other very tall, slightly overweight, going-on-middle-aged man with his clothes off and with a door on top of him. I don't see how confirming that I look vaguely like that is a major threat to my privacy.

the FBI having a general mapping of what rooms you go in in your house, how often...

Literally can be garnered from outside your house with fancy thermal optics and/or radio waves.

Re:And the point would be...? (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | about a year ago | (#44035945)

first part, pretty accurate, but I know at least some people weren't big fans of the backskatter rays at airports etc... and yup also to the fact that the FBI can get a pretty good detail on your activities from outside of your house etc... But there also certainly is a distinction between A. When there is enough probable cause that it is worth it to put a few men and a van outside of your house... vs on a whim the FBI being able to go "OK how many people in chicago seem to be working on building something in their basement... 600 OK lets check them all out". Much like why there is a distinction between "if the police have probable cause they can get a warrant to wiretap you" vs "everyone is wiretapped, and if you say one of 50 keywords the conversation is going to be flagged, listened to and then possibly escalated".

Re:And the point would be...? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#44036801)

Hmm, and after the FBI knocked the door down on top of you and then 15 storm troopers ran over said door to try and find you and eventually notice the spreading blood puddle - then I don't see why the medics would then need a cell phone app to visualize your squished body under the door.

Re:And the point would be...? (1)

Holi (250190) | about a year ago | (#44039221)

>Literally can be garnered from outside your house with fancy thermal optics and/or radio waves.

Which put's agents outside your house, with a chance of you noticing them pointing a FLIR camera at your house.
Where as the phone could probably do all that for them remotely with no one the wiser, at least until they kick your door in.

Hey now I know why your were naked under the door.

Re:And the point would be...? (1)

crakbone (860662) | about a year ago | (#44041749)

What I do with a bowl of green jello in the privacy of my own home is none of your business.

Re:And the point would be...? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#44036777)

Blind people cannot see, but they can hear Siri speak to them. Hand-held Sonar technology can be extremely useful to many.

Military uses... (1)

anubi (640541) | about a year ago | (#44034123)

Sounds like right out of a military R&D lab.

One of these on a reconnaissance robot and you get the 3D layout, as well as everything moving.

A rat-sized robot.

Re:Military uses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44034311)

what about a little bot with three arms and a red eye?

If you want to, arm it with a pistol and give it the ability to taser old guys who hide in boxes.

Specific echolocation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44034215)

Can it find the typical contours of my %$*&!@ car keys!

Re: Specific echolocation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44037849)

Or wallet!.

It reminds me of GPS or radio telescope signals... (3, Interesting)

PetoskeyGuy (648788) | about a year ago | (#44034275)

I *gasp* read the actual document (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/06/12/1221464110.full.pdf+html) and it sounds like some pretty complicated work. It relies on a bunch of separate microphones to listen in an absolutely silent room for the exact same noise and the echos of bounces. Since you know where the microphones are in relation to each other you can compute when the initial sound and echos hits each microphone and from there reverse construct where the sound must have originated and the echos tell you what it bounces of off.

The math is a bit beyond me after being out of university for so long, but it seem similar to transliteration using in GPS where thanks to very fast sensor readings you can figure out where you are in relation to a fixed signal. To compute the shape in the in a noisy environment I wonder if you can use a "known" sound where you could listen for only that and filter out the regular noise. Either way the computation involved would be impressive but maybe not for the elusive "5 years time" computer.

It would be cool to have something like this in my fishing boat where instead of a dot on the screen I could get something that tells me where the fish are and what kind too. :-)

Maybe you could arrange them in a golumb ruler layout to further speed up processing... *sigh* Making websites pays well, but I miss computers science.

Re:It reminds me of GPS or radio telescope signals (4, Interesting)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44034567)

It would be cool to have something like this in my fishing boat where instead of a dot on the screen I could get something that tells me where the fish are and what kind too. :-)

At what point do you stop cheating and start fishing? What's so wrong with having intuition about where the fish are? There are plenty of tell-tale signs that would give you clues to where the fish are hiding.

I admit, I don't boat fish because it's absolutely way too boring. I prefer walking up the mountain river, pickup up river stones to see what bugs are underneath. Maybe boat fishing is just too different an animal that my tactics would not adapt well, but I doubt it. With enough experience, I am positive I could do just as well with a contour map of the water's floor and my own two eyes as the guy with the expensive boat with all kinds of sonic weapons.

Recreational fishing should be low-tech. Having endless gadgets to push the odds ever in your favor defeats the purpose.

Re:It reminds me of GPS or radio telescope signals (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44035761)

Recreational fishing should be low-tech.

OMG. Other people are having fun but they're doing it wrong!

Seriously, why do you care how other people fish?

Re:It reminds me of GPS or radio telescope signals (3, Interesting)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44036229)

I start to care when I find their trash littered all over the forest. I start to care when their loud boats zoom right into my casting line in the inlet. I start to care when their efficiency affect the experience for everyone else.

But all of that is besides the point. Recreational fishing is a meditative thing. You do it on the weekends, or for a couple weeks at a time, so that you can escape the daily grind and restore part of your soul. The more machines you add to that experience... you know the rest.

Re:It reminds me of GPS or radio telescope signals (3, Insightful)

Holi (250190) | about a year ago | (#44039289)

>Recreational fishing is a meditative thing.

For you, where do you get off trying to tell people how they do their recreational activities. You do things your way because they are fun for you. I do them differently because what you describe sounds painfully boring.

Re:It reminds me of GPS or radio telescope signals (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44040665)

I guess it would be boring if you were terrible at fishing and never had success.

I understand why people need to cheat and have all these machines to make it easier. It indeed would be boring to be a bad angler and unable to land fish.

Re:It reminds me of GPS or radio telescope signals (1)

F34nor (321515) | about a year ago | (#44037037)

80% of fish stocks will be gone by 2040

How well did it work? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44034283)

No image of the 3D reconstruction to look at?

"I'm Batman!" (1)

rts008 (812749) | about a year ago | (#44034287)

*hurls iPhone at mugger instead of Batarang*

"Do'h"
  *slinks away with cape between legs.....mugger shrugs and picks up phone*

mugger: "Cool!"

Interesting. (1)

bmk67 (971394) | about a year ago | (#44034369)

An app to use your phone to find things? What I really need is an app to help me find my phone.

Yes, yes, I know all about WheresMy* - but that doesn't help when the batter is dead. :D

clearly you need an emergency battery (1)

Chirs (87576) | about a year ago | (#44034413)

to power the location-finding mechanism when the main battery is dead

Finally (2)

rjstanford (69735) | about a year ago | (#44034499)

I've been waiting for years for that little automatically updating map that video games promised me.

Think about the possibilities of being able to grey it out too - imagine the convenience when hunting for your car keys, being able to see a ghost map on your phone of everywhere you've looked and say "Aha! That corner's missing! The extra treasure must be there!"

THE NSA (1)

acedotcom (998378) | about a year ago | (#44035089)

would love this! making finding you anywhere that much easier!

Alcoholism? (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | about a year ago | (#44035207)

Don't know why but when I first read the title I read it as alcoholism for your cellphone

Already have this app on Android (1)

cstacy (534252) | about a year ago | (#44036611)

It doesn't use echolocation to show you the room, though; it provides a direct visual map of the room, selective details about its contents (such as items sitting on shelves), and it works instantly. I think the app is called "Assistive Light" but I have also seen versions called "Flashlight". I always assumed iPhone had this, too....

More Apple Advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44036743)

Why did the submitter choose to advertise Apple in this post. Apple is not supporting the research and has nothing to do with this story. The submitter is incorrectly assumed that because it is "cool" technology that Apple must be behind it. I have just two things to say to that "Apple Maps!" The iPhone is not a by-word for innovation and has not been for some time so stop giving the corporate free advertising.

Great (1)

Searchub Nation (2954869) | about a year ago | (#44037297)

I would love to use this too in my travels.

Finally. (1)

Vengeance (46019) | about a year ago | (#44038705)

Live action Zork.

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