One of the most dependable ways to diagnose problems with an automobile is to listen to the sounds it makes. Knowing what they sound like, how fast they vibrate, and where they come from and under what conditions can tell an experienced mechanic a tremendous amount about the current condition and potential
future condition of a vehicle.
The trick is being able to hear those sounds and make sense of them. Most vehicle owners do not understand what to listen for, what the difference is between a knock a thump and a bump are. or what sounds are important and what arent.
In my experience I have found that there are a few key problems with this sort of trouble shooting.
1) hearing "where" a noise is coming from. is it from the right or the left, front or back, wheel well or engine, etc.
2) Noises you cant hear from the drivers seat. This is very important for engine and suspension trouble that you can only hear while moving or while under power.
3) Noises that come and go.
To aid a mechanic in troubleshooting these problems I propose a tool that would utilize a group of audio/vibration sensors that would be equiped with rechargeable batteries and Bluetooth. These would be fundementally identical to very common telephone earpices. These weather proof modules would be equiped with a set of interchangable bases, Magnetic, Suction, Sticky tape and mechnical. so that they could be mounted or positioned where ever needed.(on body of car, undercarrige, engine compartment, interior etc.)
The other half of the system is a small reciever/Black box that is connected to the vehicles Diagnostic port, which would collect both the sensor telemetry and the cars operating conditions. in realtime.
After listening to the customers description of the problem the mechanic would then emplace the sensors in the locations needed and quantity needed to isolate the problem. for example;
Suspension noise; Mechanic would affix sensors either on the body or inside the wheelhouse on all 4 corners of the car.
interior rattle; Sensors placed in 4 corners of passenger compartment
Engine Noise; place to either side and high in back, low infront or what ever config suits the vehicle.
Once being emplaced the customer then returns to the road for up to a couple of days to recreate the noise situation. The mechanic can then download the data and review it. Software could then analyze the data and identify anomolies for the mechanic to investigate, by adding a learning capability to the system the data from different vehicles could be databased, thus increasing the accuracy of diagnosis. or the mechanic can view the data in a variaty of ways to help isolate the problem, including simply listening to the sounds in a surround sound headset. They would be able to filter out different frequencies to help isolate problems(tire noise is low and loud could be filtered)
This could greatly reduce troubleshooting time and accuracy for mechanics, and would be relatively low cost to produce as all the technology exists already with the exception of the custom software.