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UK Commissioner Seeks To Ban Ultrasonic Anti-Teen Device

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the makes-my-brain-hurt dept.

Government 552

mikesd81 points out a Times Online article that discusses the legality of the Mosquito sound device, which is used to annoy and drive off younger people with sounds that are too high-pitched for most adults to hear. We discussed how annoying this device can be a couple years ago. From Times Online: "Sir Albert Aynsley-Green, the Children's Commissioner for England appointed to represent the views of the country's 11 million children, has set up a campaign — called Buzz Off — that is calling for the Mosquito to be banned on grounds that it infringes the rights of young people. 'These devices are indiscriminate and target all children and young people, including babies, regardless of whether they are behaving or misbehaving,' Sir Al told the BBC. 'The use of measures such as these are simply demonizing children and young people, creating a dangerous and widening divide between the young and the old.'"

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Wow (-1, Offtopic)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431360)

Wow. . .uhm. . .yeah, definitely going to have to RTFA on this one, sounds way too easy to agree with. Gotta get in a first post first though.

Re:Wow (4, Informative)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431546)

Yeah, After reading the article, I just can't comprehend how this is a good idea. What ever happened to think of the children? Imagine a mother leaving her child next to once of these devices because she couldn't hear it. I don't think starting a war with the younger generation is a great way to solve young people assembling. . .no really, from TFA:

"What police find is that rather than one group of 20 or [3]0 kids in one location they will split into smaller groups and the smaller groups cause less problems. Of course it doesn't solve the long-term problem, but it does what it says on the box. It disperses the large groups."

I find that statement extremely unnerving. So a group of people of a certain age getting together is always a bad thing? Is it possible that other age groups also would not have the ability to assembly (wrong side of the pond, I know)? What ever happened to just posting signs and asking people to leave and finally contacting the police if there was still a problem. Could teenagers respond by playing their heavy metal "music" at the same level wherever they are. I'm sure there are other noises that can be created that are within noise pollution laws that annoy older folk too. That way everyone is annoyed and nothing is solved. How convenient technology can be, why interact with other people at all when you can just drive them off using a device that exploits a statistical correlation with the group you don't like. Best Idea Ever.

"What type of society uses a low-level sonic weapon on its children? Imagine the outcry if a device was introduced that caused blanket discomfort to people of one race or gender, rather than to our kids,"

</angry-sarcasm>Ok then, glad to see someone sensible is leading the charge

Re:Wow (4, Informative)

imipak (254310) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431642)

A small "hoorah!" for the civil liberties NGO Liberty [liberty-hu...hts.org.uk], who've been campaigning on this for a year or so [liberty-hu...hts.org.uk]. We've got one of these things in the nearest small Gloucestershire market town I go for my beer and pizza, and I haven't noticed any reduction in moody 15 y.o.s hanging round the shopping centre... they just hang around a couple of hundred yards away from the arcade where the thing's sited.

Re:Wow (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22431734)

"What ever happened to just posting signs and asking people to leave and finally contacting the police if there was still a problem."

That's essentially the problem. I've been watching the coverage of this device in recent news with interest, and initially I was pretty furious that some politically correct hand-wringer was once again poking their nose in, but I must confess that there are always two sides to the story and I'm beginning to see that the device really does need some serious improvements and/or regulation or, ideally, the root problem being dealt with and the device being made unnecessary. And that's the real issue that this device is highlighting, to my mind - that there is a problem with the behaviour of certain groups of kids that we need to deal with.

A typical example is just down the road from my house. There's a small shop, video rental place, takeaway, and a pub in a small patch surrounded by houses. During the day, it's fine. At night, it's a disaster area.

The kids who gather there are an effing nuisance, they insist on playing football right in front of the cars trying to use the car park, they harrass people and treat adults there like crap, they've smashed the windows of the shops dozens of times, they throw rubbish everywhere... The list goes on and on, they're just out of control and their parents are nowhere to be seen. Nobody dares deal with it because if they do, *they* will be the ones who get punished for taking the law into their own hands, or they'll be on the receiving end of reprisals.

The police response is this: Several yellow signs have been put up on the lamp posts that have bizarre txt-speak drivel on them. A typical example is "If ur bad we'll tell ur olds."

And that's it.

You never, ever see the police turn up. They do *nothing*. The parents of the kids do *nothing*. For the reasons listed above, everyone else does *nothing*. The kids, meanwhile, go mental. It's a total failure of control.

Re:Wow (2, Funny)

NeoHunyadi (1228230) | more than 6 years ago | (#22432068)

The police response is this: Several yellow signs have been put up on the lamp posts that have bizarre txt-speak drivel on them. A typical example is "If ur bad we'll tell ur olds."

I just have to say that that is the most stupid idea I've ever heard. It's so absurd that I can't even laugh at how stupid it is. I'm not even sure I believe you, but the nagging thought in the back of my head tells me that someone, somewhere out there, thought that was a good idea.

Jesus fucking Christ that's idiotic.

Re:Wow (1, Interesting)

Kashgarinn (1036758) | more than 6 years ago | (#22432114)

..reading your post you'd think kids trying to find something to do, doing stuff together is a bad thing.

Instead of grabbing the beating stick to any problem, or legislation, why not try to understand what the problem is.

Have you actually gone up to the kids and asked them why they're there playing instead of somewhere else? Have you tried to understand what's happening from their side?

Kids aren't stupid, or evil, or trying to make your life miserable. If they show no respect, have an attitude towards you, then that's your fault and your inability as well as other adults in the neighbourhood to deal properly with the situation.

So grow up and deal properly with the problem instead of shouting "get off my lawn!"

K.

Re:Wow (2, Funny)

AmishElvis (1101979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22432104)

Oddly enough, I have found some references on the Internet to a technology which may be able to counter devices like this. Supposedly the US Military currently issues this equipment to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to help defeat noise-related threats. Does anybody know if this technology [wikipedia.org] really exists, or is it just science fiction?

Heh. (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431370)

Followed the link to TFA. I listened to the tone that I, as a 44-year-old, was not supposed to be able to hear. Sure enough, I heard it. It's faint, I had to use DJ-style headphones to isolate it enough, but it was audible.

I couldn't be the only person who can hear a 25,000Hz tone at my age. I could see how this device could backfire big time. I certainly wouldn't stick around a store where my ears were so assaulted. I hope this never catches on in the US.

Re:Heh. (5, Informative)

AP2k (991160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431396)

Two problems:

1: The tone is compressed with mp3. 25kHz isnt supposed to be even representable with that format. MP3 drops frequencies at 16kHz and above, right?
2: You cant properly represent a 25kHz tone with 44.1kHz sampling without distrotion. For all we know the real tone may sound like Mozart.

Re:Heh. (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431434)

Yes, but I tried the same thing with Audacity's tone generator after remembering that small fact about mp3. No crunching there. Guess what? I still heard the tone. I guess I just have damn good ears, or all the loud amplified music I listened to in my youth didn't kill the high end of my hearing. It probably rolled off a bit of my midrange, but my ultra-high-end is still present and accounted for.

L-U-C-K-Y! (4, Funny)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431478)

Miss, I don't think you were listing to the right music. After all the loud amplified music I listened to in my youth, a high frequency ringing is just about all I hear.

Re:Heh. (1)

AP2k (991160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431570)

Assuming the compression didnt remove the high frequency, that still leaves the low sampling rate. If you go and buy an acoustic mosquito repellent, the tone isnt nearly as harsh as that.

Re:Heh. (2, Informative)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431720)

The harsh tones you hear are probably caused but the fact that the devices's frequency is above the nyquist frequency for 44Khz. The result is lower artifacts and harmonics which are audible although the orignal frequency is not.

Re:Heh. (4, Interesting)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431868)

Yes, but I tried the same thing with Audacity's tone generator after remembering that small fact about mp3. No crunching there. Guess what? I still heard the tone.
From memory the highest frequency your sound card can generate is half the clock rate of the oscillator on your sound card, if you have a 96Khz rate card then you can probably generate frequencies up to about 48khz, if the oscillator is 44.1Khz then max of about 22.5khz. Of course that's the advertised rate, could be higher or lower slightly.

I guess I just have damn good ears, or all the loud amplified music I listened to in my youth didn't kill the high end of my hearing.
I found the same thing, though tintinitis can still affect you even if your hearing is good, well that's the way it seems with me sometimes, just be careful I love loud music too but that ringing sucks big time when it kicks in. I had a hearing check and my sensitivity was really good after many loud concerts, jams with bands, night clubs etc - I feel very lucky - I use hearing protection ALL the time now.

And one thing I did find useful, generating a high-pitched noise above human hearing (I've got a delta-1010lt connected to a PA system, it's oscillator is 50Khz) was to get my neighbors dog's to STFU. I certainly wasn't keen on disturbing the rest of my neighbors by yelling at the dogs at 1,2,3,5,6,7am. Worked a treat - even for the dogs in the next street along - and no-one was the wiser - thus avoiding unnecessary confrontation. It's amazing what can be done with a few heavy duty tweeters, an amp, and a distorting high-frequency signal source (ardour and ladspa in this case).

Beside I know heeps of kids that have high frequency ring tones so that their teachers cannot hear their mobiles ringing in class, cheeky little brats. Might be agood idea under some circumstances IF used with restraint and wisdom - not just to be obnoxious. I only used enough high frequency noise on the dogs so they would learn to keep quiet.

Re:Heh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22431676)

The MP3 format doesn't inherently ditch frequencies above 16khz, your encoder does. If you use LAME, you can use the --lowpass switch to directly specify a frequency up to 20.5khz or 22khz depending on which version you use.

THREE problems! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431952)

Most of your speakers are not going to reproduce much above maybe 16kHz, even if the electronic circuitry does. And even if the audio format allowed it. (Why didn't they use .WAV? The files would still have been small enough for a short beep.)

You would have to play this back through some pretty high-fidelity speakers. (And NOT those $9.95 earbud things that claim a 20kHz response. Yeah right. Do you really know what a decibel is?)

Every time this comes up it's the same story... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431456)

Old fogeys can hear it perfectly.

It doesn't work as advertised.

Re:Heh. (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431460)

It's 15,000Hz (the demo is at least) actually, not 25,000Hz. Rare is the human that can hear a tone higher than 20,000Hz, nor is your sound equipment likely to produce it.

However 15kHz isn't that hard. While people do suffer from hearing loss as they age, it isn't as severe as some seem to think, or as universal. I'm over 25 and I can easily hear the tone just out of my speakers. In fact I can hear higher than that. Last time I self tested, it was about 18.5kHz where it cut off (or at least dropped sharply). Also it isn't as though your hearing will necessarily suddenly drop to zero at a certain frequency. Rather it will gradually roll off as frequencies get higher. So while teens might hear it louder, it doesn't mean that adults couldn't hear it and be annoyed, just not able to figure out what it is since it is softer to them.

Over all, it just isn't a very smart idea. You can't even limit it just to kids and, as they mentioned, what makes someone magically responsible at 25? I had a full time job and owned a house before I turned 25, I'm going to say it is ok for me to want to go to a store.

Re:Heh. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431542)

Rare is the human that can hear a tone higher than 20,000Hz...

That's not really true. The ear doesn't just stop hearing at a particular frequency. It falls off in responsiveness. At sufficient volumes, everyone should be able to hear 25 kHz. You just don't want to be in the room with something chirping at that volume. :-D

P.S. I'm 31 and I can hear 22 kHz just fine. My speakers can't reliably reproduce much higher than that, so I couldn't do much testing, but I'd wager these things would make me get very irritable and not shop at the store ever again. Don't get me started about the "ultrasonic" bird deterrents in the train station at 4th and King in San Francisco, either. It doesn't seem to keep the birds away, but it sure annoys the heck out of me. Maybe they could consider something more effective... like walls... and doors... but I digress....

Re:Heh. (1)

locofungus (179280) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431796)

P.S. I'm 31 and I can hear 22 kHz just fine. My speakers can't reliably reproduce much higher than that,

You may be able to hear this but I'd be very surprised. It's almost certain that you're hearing harmonics that are being generated, probably by resonances in the speaker.

http://saunderslog.com/2006/06/12/the-mosquito-ring-tone-this-adult-can-hear-it/ [saunderslog.com]

I'm 37 and I can easily hear 16kHz. 17kHz I can just hear when using headphones and the volume cranked right up but I wouldn't notice it unless I'm listening for it. 18kHz I don't think I can hear at all but it's hard to be certain using these samples.

Tim.

Tim.

Re:Heh. (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431474)

As a 21 year old not being able to hear it.... balls. I could trick myself into picking something faint out, so maybe it's a function of my speakers, but I don't know. I DO know that I got a headache when playing those mp3s, despite not really hearing anything.

Honestly, though, I'm not against this. It's a weapon that targets young people. So? Racial profiling may suck but it works so we do it. Setting up a device to deter teens may suck but let's be honest - they a large group that tends to do stupid shit in large groups. It's just a smart idea. No one's trying to invent devices to stop the extremely elderly from becoming rowdy because it just doesn't happen. It's not discriminating against young people, it's just only effective against them. You might as well argue that someone who writes a computer virus is discriminating against young people because they're more likely to be using one, or that people selling DVD players are discriminating against the elderly because they'll have a harder time using them.

Not necessarily your ears (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431512)

You can easily have computer equipment that can't reproduce frequencies that high. While 15kHz isn't especially high, and the general range of audio is considered to be "20-20,000Hz," there's plenty of cheap gear that rolls off before that. Unless you are sure your gear does a good job reproducing sounds in a given range, I wouldn't count on it as an accurate hearing test.

Re:Not necessarily your ears (1)

zenkonami (971656) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431968)

Well put.

I would also like to add, particularly for those claiming to hear those super high frequencies, or having turned it up ever so slightly and being blasted (assuming it's not the equipment) that there are "ultrasonic" sounds out there all the time that we never think about. We might feel the headache. Maybe they're too quiet. Maybe we (some of us) do hear them but just can't figure out what they are because they're not a simple sine wave. Let's beware of the notion that because our hearing tapers off around 20kHz, so does most sound.

Re:Heh. Even shitty ears can hear that thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22431530)

I heard it too, though my age isn't much of a factor in this case. I'm 29 but have had nerve hearing loss and deafness all my life. I require a hearing aide, but knowing the aide often works like MP3 compression... I don't tend to hear things through the hearing aide's microphone in music, such as high hats. (higher, tinnier frequencies are simply stripped out selectively) However, without the hearing aide and decent sound isolating headphones, I can hear more than I can hear with the hearing aide.

That considered, I STILL heard the tone, with and without my hearing aide.

It's a deep (as in penetrating), high pitched, persistent FHWEEEE whine. Very similar to flyback transformer whine when you get one of those CRT tubes failing.

Even being the deaf kid on the block, so to speak, I would smash one of those units, without any hesitation, if I had to have my area befouled with that kind of noise pollution.

Captcha: hostile

Re:Heh. (1)

guamisc (1174125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431660)

I am almost certain that the five-points MARTA station in downtown Atlanta has a device that produces the tone or somewhere near it. It's unbearable for me when the train doors open at that station or I have to stand on the platform. I am 21, in case anyone was wondering.

Re:Heh. (1)

zenkonami (971656) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431918)

1) I'm confused. I thought the article said -

The device works by emitting a pulse at 17-18 kilohertz that switches on and off four times a second for up to 20 minutes. Teenagers can pick it up through minute hairs in their inner ears - but those hairs tend to die off by the time they reach 25.
...and I think the link at the top of TFA read -

Under 25? Listen here | Over-25s, listen here
...meaning those under the age of 25, and those over the age of 25. It would be highly unlikely (and I do mean highly unlikely) that any human being could hear 25kHz. I suspect it would be about as amazing as a human being who could see infrared or ultraviolet light.

2) Nothing to do with this poster (I had to respond somewhere) but I find it absurd, in the age of iPods, earbuds and an almost complete lack of education on auditory health, to presume that most teenagers (particularly the troublesome types) haven't suffered significant damage to those inner ear hairs. Age isn't the only thing that kills hearing, particularly at high frequencies.

Re:Heh. (3, Informative)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431926)

No human - even children with perfect hearing - can hear 25,000 hz. (I've read that some people believe a tiny proportion of children with exceptionally wide-spectrum hearing can hear up to 29,000 hz, but this is more of an urban legend, I think) Neither your speakers nor your sound card are capable of (intentionally) producing 25,000 hz.

Just to give a baseline - I happened to visit the science museum in Balboa Park, CA, in 2002. I was 20 years old at the time, and I had excellent hearing (both then and now). They had a booth set up (with specially-purpose equipment) for testing the range of your hearing. I could hear up to about 16,500 hz, and I was able to perceive sounds up to about 17,500 hz. (Note: TV flyback, the high-pitched whine your TV gives off, is about 14,000 hz) This is probably about the upper limit for someone post-adolescence.

Re:Heh. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431940)

You'd probably be able to hear an even higher frequency if it was loud enough and you were close enough. There's not a hard cut off between audible and silent. There's a curve. Younger people will probably perceive the tone as much louder than you do. Or it's possible that you have freakishly good hearing. Some people do.

Re:Heh. (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22432062)

It's easy to generate a 25kHz tone. At 34, I can *clearly* hear 25kHz (well, I can't at the moment because I'm bunged up with the cold). I can hear these devices, and they're loud enough to annoy me. So, basically, I can complain to the people who use them, who then say "oh that's rubbish only teenagers can hear it".

However, at 34 I'm also old enough to have a decent job with a reasonable disposable income, so I can drop a few hundred quid on an idle whim without it really being a problem. I'm also old enough to be able to hire a mobile access platform to rip the fscking thing off the wall.

I think that's my Saturday morning fully booked.

Does it work with newfags too? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22431376)

If the answer to that is 'yes', then /b/ would be interested in 9001 of these...

Re:Does it work with newfags too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22431690)

rules #1 and #2.

Whose the newfag now?

Let's see if slashdot stands by it's principles (2, Insightful)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431378)

"This is a technological device, and you can't outlaw it !", right ? It's a "hack", and cool. Only it affects many people who read this site, as opposed to (mostly) rich people, like authors.

But I fear we will get a shameful demonstration of human nature, making "noble" excuses to force whatever suits the individual making the excuse.

Re:Let's see if slashdot stands by it's principles (1)

damicatz (711271) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431386)

Nothing an EMP generator can't take care of. If these things start appearing in the US, I might just build one.

Re:Let's see if slashdot stands by it's principles (1)

Zemran (3101) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431746)

Maybe it is time to start marketing better fitting ear buds for mp3 players that cut out this noise...

How about ear buds that cut out annoying background noises yet create their own annoying background noises...

Re:Let's see if slashdot stands by it's principles (1)

lee1026 (876806) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431440)

Well, it is annoying, and if you will recall, the slashdot community raised a pretty big howl about allowing cell phones on planes, simply because it is annoying.

Re:Let's see if slashdot stands by it's principles (1)

Niten (201835) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431472)

"This is a technological device, and you can't outlaw it !", right ?

I don't know when you imagine Slashdot to have demonstrated an outright opposition to legal bans on technological devices, in general, on account of them being "technological". A nuclear bomb is a "technological device," but I have yet to see an impassioned argument on this site that they should be available for sale in every corner hardware shop.

If you are actually trying to equate banning the use of this particular device in order to actively discriminate against a particular group of people, to placing restrictions on Internet usage at the behest of copyright holders, then you've failed to make your case. This is an annoyance device that targets teenagers; the Internet is a fundamental enabling platform for a innumerable products and services around the world. There is no analogy to be made between the two, no similarity aside from the peripheral fact that both "products" happen to involve electronics.

Call me an old fogey (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22431384)

Parents of my generation made it clear to us that we didn't have any rights (save for child protection if they were abusive) until we were 18 and legally responsible for ourselves. I think the world is partly screwed up because we give irresponsible kids too much rights, power and money where they are at an age where they should be learning basic skills of dealing with society and learning life lessons and having the advantage and opportunities of just being kids.

I say parents should rightfully deprive the kids of cars, money, x-boxes, etc. till they have really earned it. Let them play in the parks, go to the library, beat each other up in the back yard, lets not make them lousy consumers.

one of the main reason of that mosquito noise thing is popular is to keep these socially inept kids from vandalizing and or ripping off businesses.

A step in the same direction (1)

courseofhumanevents (1168415) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431388)

Wouldn't using these purely to annoy already be outlawed by the same means that blowing airhorns constantly in public spaces is outlawed?

Re:A step in the same direction (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431784)

Wouldn't using these purely to annoy already be outlawed by the same means that blowing airhorns constantly in public spaces is outlawed?

Precisely what I thought; there are already public nuisance laws that criminalise people who deliberately produce obnoxious loud noises like this. The fact that only a certain subset of the population can hear it is neither here nor there.

I'm surprised I've never noticed these things; I used to have the best high-frequency hearing around at school (the ending of Sgt. Pepper really pissed me right off by the way), so even with the passage of time I'd probably still be able to pick this up. I've probably destroyed that for good with far too much heavy metal.

Typical. (3, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431394)

Notice how he carefully avoids saying anything about how people might need this device? England is becoming more like the nightmare dystopia of Clockwork Orange every day. But let's not say anything about how why a business might want to protect itself from children, instead let's attack those who have the temerity to try and defend themselves.

  • Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Child criminals are entitled to what they smash. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
  • The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
  • For a virtuous person, defending oneself is never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to take proactive measures. An ASBO is more than enough, in any case.

Re:Typical. (4, Insightful)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431422)

You might find this piece interesting:

http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/britons-will-keep-on-fearing-the-worst/2008/01/13/1200159274543.html [theage.com.au]

Crime keeps decreasing in real terms, and we keep thinking it's getting worse and coming up with extreme measures to counter it.

And others want to join. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431972)

They have been trying this in the U.S., too, with somewhat less success. Fearmongering, that is. Yet it has still been nastily effective. We should aim our animosity against those who use such techniques, rather than against those they would turn us against.

Re:Typical. (1)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22432116)

My guess is that that is a result of fearmongering, and the fact that all these populations are getting, on average, older. Thus grumpier, much more susceptible to fearmongering, and missing the nostalgic "gold old days" when life was shinier, and they could have as much salt as they wanted in every meal.

Think of the Chil... Babies! (4, Insightful)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431560)

Man, I will start taking you serious the moment my mind gets around the thought of a one-year-old Criminal.

This isn't stopping theft, it is torturing babies. The worst part? If the parents are too old to hear the sound, they. have. no. clue. what. you. are. doing. to. their. kid.

I'm assuming you don't have little ones of your own. Strike that, I'm hoping you don't have little ones of your own.


Also, on a side note, this seems very stupid from a business sense. Kids grow up to be consumers, and many companies spend massive amounts to burn brand loyalties into their young impressionable minds. How quick will that noise make a massive headache a Pavlovian response to anything related to your brand.

Seems more like they're shooting themselves in the foot, not protecting themselves.

Re:Think of the Chil... Babies! (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431782)

If you think the kinds of people we're supposed to be detering can be called 'little ones' in any kind of cute and cuddly way, you are sorely misguided.

Re:Think of the Chil... Babies! (1)

Lyrael (1196443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431986)

Supposed to be. I agree that as a general rule groups of teenagers turn into mindless vandals trying to look cooler than the rest of said vandals, creating a downward spiral of obnoxiousness. These devies are supposed to be used only now and again, after said teenagers have grouped up and need to be dispersed, but the McDonald's in my nearest town has one of these just outside it and it's on constantly.

That's not just affecting the teenagers, it's affecting every single child younger than that who even walks anywhere near it. Parents take their babies inside and even though the child's crying, they don't know why because they can't hear it and cannot stop it. Are you trying to justify torturing innocent babies?

Re:Think of the Chil... Babies! (2, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22432076)

You're kind of missing the point here. It's not *only* teenagers that can hear this. You don't somehow miraculously become able to hear 25kHz tones between the ages of 13 and 18. Babies can hear it just as clearly. Ever wondered why you go somewhere and every single baby is screaming?

Re:Think of the Chil... Babies! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22431816)

Indeed. On Tuesday, I asked a young woman working in an electrical retailer if she heard these devices (I don't, so officially old...) She told me that she had heard them at two railway stations, and that they hurt her ears. Since when is assaulting innocent people a reasonable response to the actions of others? Oh yeah, in totalitarian states.

Re:Typical. (4, Insightful)

Runefox (905204) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431574)

Who needs this device? Why protect from children, specifically? Are all children criminals? Are all Arabs terrorists? You're treading on dangerous ground.

No, it's not as simple as you put it, nor is it as simple as I'll put it. The problem is that parents don't really seem to care or be able to stop this sort of thing, and schooling isn't doing the trick, either. I'm not personally familiar with the education system in the UK, but I do know that things are diminishing in North America (the US at a faster pace, as I'm told) as the trend to completely spoil children and leave them to their own devices continues to rise.

The point of any crime prevention is to keep the crime from happening to begin with (hence the name). Since the easiest, most simple and fool-proof solution to that is to keep people from actually wanting to do whatever it is they're going to do, it's best to do it that way. Beating them back with a stick, putting buzzers that operate at a certain frequency on the side of the building, or any other method is a stopgap, short-term solution to a more vast problem, and considering that it targets innocent youths as well as children and infants, along with a certain percentage of adults, I find the concept to be atrocious. If you're of the belief that all people under a certain age are irresponsible ruffians, then you're no different than the ones you're trying to "defend" yourself against. Not to mention that any youth can go out and buy earplugs, or listen to an MP3 player, and be blissfully unaware of the noise here; Plus, if what you're saying is true, then why can't they just take the time to go smash the place up and grab what they can, anyway? These things don't actively repel kids, they annoy them gradually. Like one person said, it's like getting up and going in the basement while your alarm clock is still buzzing away. Perhaps instead of treating youths with immediate distrust and apprehension (especially with something so pathetically worthless), shop owners could, I don't know, actually mind their shops like they're supposed to. That is how they make their living, right? Or do they get paid per child flogged?

Do these businesses actively practice throwing people out of their shops, too? This sounds a lot like they're trying to alienate future customers for the sake of removing a threat posed by a portion of an entire group of people... Remember, too, that you were once a youth; How virtuous were you? If you were, then how would you like being treated this way for the actions of your peers?

You need to back off and take a good look at the situation. Directly attacking an age group is insane .

Stupid generalisations need rebuttal (1)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431666)

The whole reason that there is an outcry against this is because it isn't targeted at criminals but at young people. As for going from that to your other assertions - seems to me dodgy at best. I don't want to live in a police state, but that doesn't mean I don't support the rule of law and personal responsibility. Who are these people defending themselves from - young people? This kind of attitude is as indicative of a "nightmare dystopia" as anything.

Finally, this is noise-pollution, nothing more. Imagine how these shop-owners would feel if I was next door and had my guitar amp cranking - I bet they'd be calling the cops.

No, they do not. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431996)

INTELLIGENTLY PRESENTED UNTRUTHS NEED REBUTTAL. Stupid generalizations require that people ignore them.

Stupid generalizations are not dangerous. Intelligent untruths are.

I was very, very tempted to ignore you.

Re:Typical. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22431878)

Some places in our (Canadian) town play classical music. It's sometimes enough to drive the barbarians away. Sensitive, decent, or cultured people appreciate that.

Speaking of crime in England, I've read a couple books on the subject by Theodore Dalrymple. And news articles from the country. Absolutely depressing stuff.

Re:Typical. (1)

nicklott (533496) | more than 6 years ago | (#22432022)

Theodore Dalrymple is the british equivalent of Rush Limbaugh, if you want to find out what england's really like I suggest you look a bit harder. Also I would pick and choose your news reports carefully, I mean from where I'm sitting, Canada [bbc.co.uk] looks [newsmax.com] pretty [www.xtra.ca] awful [nytimes.com], but I know it's not that bad.

Re:Typical. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22431920)

England is becoming more like the nightmare dystopia of Clockwork Orange every day
No it's not. Either you don't live here or you read the Daily Mail/Slashdot so much you don't get a chance to pull your head out of your arse and actually look around. Every stat for the less ten years has told us that crime is falling but FEAR of crime is rising. "Oh No! Teenagers! Together! and they have Hoods! They MUST be criminals..."

I'm 32 and I can hear these things. My baby isn't causing any crime yet she can hear them and can't even tell me what's wrong. It's fuckwits like you that mean we have CCTV cameras everywhere and pay 10% of our council to fund their operators.

Fuck off and die, moral majority scum

MOD PARENT UP (1)

ohsmeguk (1048214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22432018)

I wholeheartedly concur! I too am growing tired with the cowardly surveillance society we live in. I would mod you to heaven if I could... :)

Re:Typical. (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431924)

The problem with your argument is that the device attacks innocent and guilty alike. Can you not see that there is something wrong with attacking everyone below a certain age?

Defending yourself is not the same as attacking every possible attacker.

You sneer at the idea that just blaming the children is wrong. I suppose you think that kids now are naturally evil, not like when you were a kid when they were all naturally good.

To suggest England is dystopian is ludicrous. Violent crime rates are very low. Compare the murder rate in the UK (300 a year with a population of 60m) with the US (about 16,000 a year with a population of 300m).

Yes, bad bits of Britain are unpleasant - I have lived in Salford btw - but the crime is mostly low level (vandalism, car theft) and localised into certain really bad areas that are not represent the country as a whole.

The biggest problem Britain has is the heavy had the authorities get to deal with the mythical high crime rate and near mythical terrorist threat, thanks to right wing nutters like you. Look at some facts and wake up.

Re:Typical. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22431958)

on the otherhand, notice how it fails to discriminate between legitimate shoppers and people hanging about. As a hobbyist sound producer and a student, i pride myself on the acuteness of my hearing, and trust me, the sound is very unpleasant, however, there is simply no-where else for people to go other than the streets... even if you have a job, and go to school (like i do) beacuse councils cant be arsed to do anything to help you out if you dont have the vote yet

also.... i personally feel that this ban should be extended to the household anti-animal ones you can get, as a while ago, i was skating home from school with a headache, and set one off, causing me to fall into a road, and almost got run down by a car

think about it.... its a crap soulution to a problem stingy councilmen have caused by ignoring anyone over the age of about 12 and under 18, by simply giving them nothing else to do thats actually interesting or releveant

Re:Typical. (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22432034)


>Notice how he carefully avoids saying anything about how people might need this device?

Anybody that NEEDS to cause discomfort to small children NEEDS to be locked up in a very unpleasant place, forever.

Re:Typical. (1)

batkiwi (137781) | more than 6 years ago | (#22432128)

Would it be legal, or illegal, if I broadcast a 100+db 400hz sound 24/7 around my house or place of business? Would it be "people won't come by" or "public nuisance" ?

Damages hearing? WHO CARES!!! Just crank it louder.

I'm 29, have no criminal record (nor should I), and I can hear them (they bring me to my knees after about 30 seconds).

Music (4, Funny)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431412)

You can often get the same effect by playing "uncool" music.

As to the original device, maybe the little bastards will understand how I feel every time they drive by in their car or park outside, playing the latest example of what passes for music these days, with the bass level set at "stun small mammals".

Re:Music (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431482)

You can often get the same effect by playing "uncool" music.

I seem to remember some stores piping in the local classical music station to cut down on teen loitering. If I remember correctly, it worked just fine. Cheaper too.

Re:Music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22431484)

Music is a good idea. For example, my home city, Niggeropilis, plays opera music to keep the niggers from lurking around the more upscale parts of town.

Re:Music (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431630)

As to the original device, maybe the little bastards will understand how I feel every time they drive by in their car or park outside, playing the latest example of what passes for music these days, with the bass level set at "stun small mammals".

Only they play shitty dance-pop and hip-hop specifically for their own enjoyment rather than to make you uncomfortable, this device can't even be heard by those it's supposed to work in favour of. This is a completely invalid comparison.

You can often get the same effect by playing "uncool" music.

Good idea, play either some classical/baroque/romantic orchestral music at a moderate volume, it's not offensive enough to make anyone irritated or uncomfortable but will chip away at the hang-out factor to the sorts of teens you don't want. It also would be I think lead to a more pleasant experience for those who like that music. Fossil rock is another good choice I think, some Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater, Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendrix or any other good 70s music you have in the cupboard would provide something that young people would be loathed to bee seen enjoying and thus would be extremely reluctant to be around it all day. This would be a far more dignified and humane way to deal with the problem than using a child version of a dog training whistle to give them headaches.

Oh, and another thing, how many supermarkets and other potential purchasers of this device are all staffed by over 20 year olds? I know in many countries employers have a legal obligation to not torture employees and can be royally bent over in court if they have created an environment that is needlessly distressing. Heads really could roll over this.

Re:Music (1)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431686)

So please explain to me how you would attempt to claim the moral high-ground when you are deliberately providing your own noise-pollution.

Personally, I would feel like vandalising any such system that existed in my neighbourhood (and I'm a law-abiding citizen). I'd certainly be lodging formal complaints with the local council, and writing letters to the owner.

The cost (2, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431416)

It lists at 500 pounds. That is over 1000 US dollars. Why is it so expensive? It's just a waveform generator, an amp, and a speaker, right?

Some adults can hear it too... (1)

Tofino (628530) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431448)

It's irrelevant to the rights part of the discussion, but there's a segment of the adult population that can hear these sounds. We tested this out during a family party at my house last year: all the kids (oldest there was 14) could hear it, but only two adults could. (We blind-tested with someone clicking on either desktop or "play" while listener backs were turned.) I was one of them, at 36, and can also hear when a TV is turned on but not tuned to anything, and I've learned most folks can't.


Worst superpower ever, really.

Re:Some adults can hear it too... (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431626)

Same here. I'm 31 and can hear up to somewhere between 18 and 18.5 kHz (TV is slightly below 16 kHz). Wonder what frequency that device uses.

Re:Some adults can hear it too... (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431910)

Ditto. Some people thought I was crazy, but I can hear quite a bit of devices. Drives me batshit some days. My father's ProScan TV was the worst. I could hear that sucker in the kitchen.

I'm actually half-deaf too. Born that way. I have always wondered if my other ear gained its sensitivity in response to the missing ear.

In any case, a device like that I would probably smash to bits with my fists just to get my sanity back.

The file is bad (3, Interesting)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431476)

If you tried the mosquito samples [freemosquitoringtone.org] and simply couldn't hear the last, highest frequency one -- the problem is not your hearing. I opened it with an audio editor to be sure, and the waveform is a flat line. There is NO SOUND in that file.

Better test: (2, Interesting)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431534)

Use Audacity [sourceforge.net], a free/open source program. Available for Mac OS X, Windows, and the platform it originated on, Linux. Ask it to generate a 25,000Hz sine-wave tone for 10 seconds. Then take a listen to the results. Can you hear the tone? I can.

Well if you want to test that (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431618)

You need to set the sample rate to not less than 50kHz since the sample rate has to be twice, or more, the frequency you wish to play. As a practical matter for consumer gear this means you need to have a soundcard that can do 88.2kHz or 96kHz output, you need to have it set to do so, and you need to generate the tone at that sample rate. If you tell it to generate a 25,000Hz tone in its default 44.1kHz mode, you get a somewhat irregular wave at 20,000Hz.

Re:Better test: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22431682)

22357.mp3 is indeed a flat line. Using the method you described doesn't seem to work correctly. By the looks of it it's clamped at 20khz.

FWIW I can hear the 5 other non-corrupted samples just fine. I'm 28 and I wouldn't say that my ears are in the best possible condition. I went to drum'n'bass parties twice a week for several years. My left ear has always been a bit less good than my right one, but even that one seems to be good enough.

Re:Better test: (1)

matt1553 (1010755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431726)

The tone generator in Audacity will happily let you punch in 25KHz, but it won't generate above 20KHz (which I can easily hear), instead it'll just generate a 20KHz tone and say nothing more. I've tried using the latest stable release (1.2.6). I've also tried modifying the sampling rate to no avail. Also, as already stated, even if your hearing was up to the task of discerning a tone that high, your audio equipment probably won't be able to produce it - most consumer level sound cards won't do above 48KHz sampling rates (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyquist_theorem [wikipedia.org]) and thus eliminating anything over 24KHz. That's also assuming that the frequency response of the sound card was flat the extremes (most aren't). You'd also need a rather expensive pair of speakers or headphones.

Quite amusing (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431558)

You are correct, it's digital silence. This is not that surprising though. They clearly don't know what the fuck they are doing. They claim it's a 22.4kHz tone. Ok... except that it is sampled at 44.1kHz. The Nyquist Theorem tells us that you can't represent a sound over half the sample rate. So at 44.1kHz the best you are going to get is 22.05kHz (and then only if it is a pure tone).

They are also kidding themselves on the age thing. I'm nearly 30 and I can hear the 17.7kHz tone fine. It's a little quiet and getting near the upper limit of my hearing, but it is audible no problem.

Re:Quite amusing (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431820)

I couldn't hear it from their MP3's but when I went into audacity I could hear up to 19k, I don't think my headphones liked that very much though since I hear it making strange sounds at the same time.

Re:Quite amusing (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22432106)

So at 44.1kHz the best you are going to get is 22.05kHz (and then only if it is a pure tone).

Actually at 22.05kHz you'll get a triangle wave, because you're throwing the output from rail-to-rail with no intermediate steps. You'll almost certainly find that the output of the card approximates a sine wave though, because the cutoff frequency of the reconstruction filter is around 14kHz. This means that the first harmonic of a 22.05kHz triangle wave (at 44.1kHz) will be well out of the passband.

Already being done (1)

alan_dershowitz (586542) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431488)

I thought this sounded familiar, but with classical [bbc.co.uk] music [komotv.com] and light that makes your acne look worse [dailymail.co.uk]. It's still socially acceptable to stereotype, mock, fear, hate and discriminate against young people.

Re:Already being done (1)

Puff_Of_Hot_Air (995689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431876)

The reason that devices such as this exist is because crime is inversely proportional to age (exponentially so) [See http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=442 [statistics.gov.uk]]. This is exacerbated by the fact that in a growing population, the percentage of youth is quite high; leading to some researchers to suggest that stable population growth will relieve some of the pressure on the justice system (among other things) [See http://www.growthfetish.com/clive.htm [growthfetish.com]].

i'm sorry but (1, Funny)

Surt (22457) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431494)

kids are monsters. If there's a device to drive them off that's fantastic. Is there a similar device for lawyers?

Re:i'm sorry but (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431662)

Yes. It's called a shotgun. The double-barreled kind works particularly well, especially when the person holding it gives the appearance of being deeply disturbed and/or drunk. It will repel just about anyone and anything, except Police. It tends to attract them like flies to manure.

Sonnof a.. Ouch! Don't trust the 25yo cut-off! (1)

Neuticle (255200) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431566)

I JUST turned 28 yesterday, so I clicked on the listen file to see if I could hear it.

I turned my speakers up just a bit (from an almost muted level) before hitting play, and I actually shouted in pain when it started. I'm REALLY glad I wasn't wearing my headphones.

So if you're curious like I was... start with the volume OFF, and bring it up SLOW.

If I walked by one of these things, a metal protective grating wouldn't stop me from trying to smash the $@!& out of it.

I think I found a better solution: an aerosol can of expanding foam insulation would quickly cover it through any metal grate. Once the foam dries, it would muffle the sound and it's really hard to pry it off :)

*NOTE* I have wimpy $15 Altec Lansing desktop speakers that were turned almost all the way down for late night WoW - one more little twist down and they would in fact be OFF. I have seen a good number of loud bands in concert, sometimes right in front of the speakers.

ringtones (1)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431598)

kids, just go out at night and smash the things. the adults won't notice that they aren't working!

I remember hearing once that kids were using these ultrasonic sounds as ring tones, so they could text each other exam questions, and their teachers would have no idea this was going on. if this isn't true, then kids should start doing this!
  this can easily go both ways.

kids can hear what adults cant.
use this to take advantage of old people.
its only fair!

Re:ringtones (1)

aquila.solo (1231830) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431774)

Other potential countermeasures:

They call it the "mosquito" for a reason... Re-tune the thing to attract mosquitoes. IANAB, (I am not a biologist) there may or may not be such a frequency.

Set up a slightly out-of-tune version next to the original... If the geezers can't hear 25kHz, maybe a nice, loud, 80Hz beat frequency will be more their style.

See also this [xkcd.com], particularly the idea about the phase-shifted replica...

Much simpler (2, Insightful)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431648)

It's much simpler and more humane to simply play classical music kinda loud.

Also, I'm 36 and I can hear all kinds of ultra high pitched stuff.  So they're driving me and my money away, too.

Re:Much simpler (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22431874)

Er, so you shop in the UK in person on a regular basis?

No plans for legislation (2, Informative)

WindSword (596780) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431794)

The article in The Times is now out of date. The Government later announced that there would be no plans to ban the "mosquito" devices. Probably nothing to do with the public reaction to their banning which was overwhelmingly in favour of the devices. See the BBC message board for some reaction. http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?sortBy=2&forumID=4272&edition=1&ttl=20080215083504&#paginator/ [bbc.co.uk]

Thankfully it won't be banned (3, Informative)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431896)

We have real problems in the UK of violent teenage gangs and feral youths who hang around in packs causing problems. I should know I see these gangs every day. Many people won't leave their homes because of these "children". Years of namby pamby liberal Labour government and lax parenting skills in a rapidly breeding underclass has led to all these young thugs. I fully support placing as many of these devices around as possible. While it's true that it's unfair to people who are not causing trouble they are already the minority.

Re:Thankfully it won't be banned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22432016)

You see "gangs" I see bunch of kids that aren't interested in me. Drop the paranoia and you'll find life easier

Re:Thankfully it won't be banned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22432092)

do you actually live in a deprived area of the UK?

Thought not.

WHAT ABOUT RAP AND HIP-HOP????? (-1, Troll)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22431902)

Talk about noise that drives people off! What they are getting is Karma and nothing more. They should quit their bitching. At least prior generations knew what real musical talent was, even if they disagreed on who had it. This is not even close.

Let's face it... (1)

NeoHunyadi (1228230) | more than 6 years ago | (#22432012)

Most people, not just children, are inconsiderate, miles away from selfless, and just plain don't have the mental propensity to form constructive thoughts.

Issues like this go way beyond troubled adolescent children to pretty much all of society. (Whichever society that may be) I honestly can't think of an effective way to help that doesn't involve fire. I've tried being kind and considerate in the hopes that others will respond in kind, but often enough I just get stared down like I was some kind of freakin' pedophile. These mosquitoes are just the retard's way of dealing with the retarded and do nobody absolutely any good.

Problems such as these do nothing but reinforce my reclusive and introverted nature. People need to hold themselves to a higher standard, and hold others to it as well. Currently, so many people suffer from what I've heard termed as the bigotry of low expectations. If you see someone being rude and inconsiderate, find a way to let them know that they're being douchebags. I think you'll find that for the most part, they feel stupid and worthless when you inform them -- as they bloody well should.

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