Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin's Cockrell School of Engineering have built a device that can isolate sound in one-way communication, a technology that can be used to advance acoustic technology. Known as an acoustic circulator, the device could allow people to eavesdrop on conversations without being detected, which has potential implications for spies. "Imagine being able to listen without having to worry about being heard in return," said associate professor and project Andrea Alù.
The acoustic circulator is capable of breaking acoustic waves traveling between two points in the air, which the researchers say could lead to advances in noise control, acoustic equipment for sonars and sound communication systems, and components for acoustic sensing. It could also create an "acoustical version of one-way glass" to isolate sound, said Preston Wilson, associate professor at the university's department of mechanical engineering.