Art from Alex Piamonte
Wait, science—have you thought this through?!? Actually, in terms of pure science fiction curb appeal, this MIT demonstration is without a doubt some one of the coolest displays of technology I’ve ever seen. Essentially, sound vibrates matter in what are increasingly measurable ways, and with incredibly advanced video equipment, we can now reproduce the sound that was played in the presence of an object using only the visual recording of the object. These vibrations are so small they can’t be seen with the naked eye, but the video shows scientists reproducing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” from a houseplant, and Queen and Bowie’s “Under Pressure” from a pair of earbuds (nice choice).
The whole thing is pretty unbelievable, but when you see an actual, intelligible conversation rendered from video of a potato chip bag you realize there is some seriously next-level shit going on. The implications for surveillance are obvious—I’m reminded of HAL 9000 reading lips in 2001: A Space Odyssey—but I’m optimistic that work like this has amazing potential.
Obviously it’s the sort of thing that requires insanely expensive instrumentation and (at least as of now), very specific conditions, but isn’t it just so James Bond? This is not to excuse the reckless actions of such irresponsible scientists, who may be leading the youth away from proper drug-related synesthesia, and subsequently gutting the marketplace for honest, hard-working drug dealers.
I can’t help thinking that if this technology had been around during the era of the Grateful Dead, only the rich kid Deadheads would have had one. Soon though, it’ll be an app, giving people, ahem, “something to do” at concerts besides merely videotaping a show they aren’t really paying attention to…