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Real-world mute button

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Radio, television and the phone are all fantastic inventions because they can be muted at the press of a button. This is clearly far better than face-to-face encounters, as a live human being cannot generally be muted without either rudeness or force.

Clearly, this leaves a much-needed gap in the technology market. MaxCo. is therefore quietly proud to present its Real World Mute Button.

The MaxCo. RWMB closely resembles the remote control for a television, except in two details:

(a) It is roughly the size of a suitcase (but we are working on this) and
(b) It has only a single button, marked "Mute".

To use, simply point the RWMB at the offending (ie, talking) person's mouth, and press the Mute button. Several things then happen:

(1) The RWMB's automatic rangefinder determines the precise distance to the person's mouth.

(2) A set of MEMS-mirrors make carefully calculated adjustments

(3) A 10kW infra-red laser is turned on

(4) Said laser beam passes through a 4096-way beam splitter

(5) The MEMS mirrors direct each of the 4096 beams, bringing them to a point of convergence approximately 2cm in front of the offending mouth.

(6) A directional microphone detects the sounds made by the offending mouth.

(7) The laser intensity is modulated 180° out of phase with the sound. (We are thinking of using Fourier Transforms, if we can get them to fit in the suitcase.)

The result is blissful silence. As everyone knows, CO2 absorbs infra-red to a small extent and, in doing so, is heated up. The converging laser beams, acting on the CO2 in the speaker's exhalations, therefore heat and cool the emerging air, causing it to expand and contract precisely out phase with the sounds being made. Therehence, the sound is nullified at source.

The beam-splitting and controlled re-convergence ensure that no two beams strike the same place on the speaker's face, thereby preventing beard fires etc. Please note that it is extremely important to have the rangefinder calibrated regularly.

[EDIT - Later that day...]

Our R&D department had their summer barbecue and karaoke this afternoon. An alcohol-fuelled technician has discovered, through drunken chance, that there is a further application for this device. By modulating the laser not only with the inverse of the sounds coming out of the speaker's mouth, but _also_ with a suitable music track, the speaker can lip-sync to "I've Got a Brand New Combine Harvester", whilst actually singing "My Way". The possible uses of this technology in speechmaking remains to be explored.

MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 26 2016

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       Everything after step (3) appears to be entirely superfluous...   

       [+] for reckless and inadvisable use of directed energy weaponry having a near-certainty of causing serious injury or death.
8th of 7, Jul 26 2016
  

       The description implies this device can only mute one source of noise at a time, alas.
Vernon, Jul 27 2016
  

       This is true. However, in our version, multiple targets could be permanently muted in a relatively short time.
8th of 7, Jul 27 2016
  

       If the men's mirrors and beam splitters could also split off an object and reference coherent pair and put them through quite considerably dense neutral dentistry filters (something like 64 stops, or about the optical density of a brick, only with better colour rendition) then it may prove possible to create a video hologram of said beard fire.
Ian Tindale, Jul 27 2016
  

       //The description implies this device can only mute one source of noise at a time, alas.// We offer very attractive discounts on multiple units.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 27 2016
  

       // a live human being cannot generally be muted without either rudeness or force//   

       You say that as if you are trying to avoid the Nelly the Elephant in the room.   

       Try sitting in the corner of your pub, sipping a pint of guinness muttering to yourself - does the trick. Or stay at home.
bigsleep, Jul 29 2016
  

       // a live human being cannot generally be muted without either rudeness or force //   

       The other exception to "generally" being speech jammers, I guess.
notexactly, Aug 01 2016
  
      
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