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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Muffle all chatter and squirm...

So what happens to humans in the absence of all auditory stimulation? You’ll likely experience "audio hallucinations," only they aren't, at all. Turns out, you actually do start to pick up on the nuances of your own body at work. The sound of the blood in the vessels of your inner ear suddenly becomes apparent. After a minute or so, you can even hear your own heart beat. You also get dizzy.

You’ve just entered the International HQ for Microsoft Research. It's in this room that Microsoft researchers conduct various sound experiments to improve teleconferencing and various auditory recognition technologies. By effectively simulating complete silence, researchers can accurately measure spatial sound patterns without having to deal with echoes and reverberations that are a part of our normal day-to-day existence.

The one concession designers did make was to incorporate specially designed air ducts that pump air into the room. While they do produce a minute level of noise, they can also be shut off, effectively cutting off all air flow for "perfect silence," as one Microsoft researcher put it.

I’d rather have some chatter….



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