CAE Systems’ “SOUNDCAM”, currently making its way through a Kickstarter campaign, doesn’t generate images using only noise. What it does do is show you where sound is emanating from via its rear touchscreen and includes distance info and other interesting data.
The 3kg device, which looks like a plastic dish with a bunch of holes in it, actually holds an array of 64 microphones, along with a central (and completely normal) video camera.
The number of mics and their positions makes it possible to “locate” noise:
Sound propagates as a wave at a certain speed, which means that sound needs a certain amount of time to propagate from a noise source to each microphone of the array.
Depending on each microphone’s position, the sound wave will need varying travel times. The algorithm running on SOUNDCAM analyses these time delays and calculates accurate acoustic pictures and videos in real time.
Now, you might be wondering what you’d use the SOUNDCAM for. Well, it can help identify gas leaks, or mechanical faults in complex systems, that would otherwise take a long time to find.
At the moment, the SOUNDCAM is only available via CAE Systems’ Kickstarter. The early bird price is €4479 ($7176), a significant discount on the €7999 ($12,816) RRP. Expensive, yes, but it does reflect the camera’s rather niche use cases.