These incredible acoustic cameras can actually see sound
Here's how they work.
It’s bizarre to think about seeing sound, but nowadays we can do just that. If you haven’t seen an acoustic camera before, that’s because they’re mainly used for industrial purposes, but they’ve been available commercially from gfai tech since 2001.
YouTuber Steve Mould, who has a science channel with over 2.1 million subscribers, took the complicated concept of the acoustic camera and made it easy to understand in his latest video, “Acoustic cameras can SEE sound.”
In the video, Mould explains how an acoustic camera is much like your smartphone's video recorder. But it also creates visual representations of sound emanating from where it’s generated within the video.
“They can show you where, in a scene, sound is coming from,” Mould says. The videos also allow you to isolate images within the recording and listen to any sound they produce.
The video shows how acoustic cameras are used in industrial settings for noise reduction and machine maintenance. For example, if a train is flying by at top speed, the acoustic camera can separate the sounds from each wheel as it passes. This allows engineers to analyze the sounds produced by each wheel to determine if they need to be fixed or replaced before there’s trouble.
To record the sound and visuals simultaneously, each camera has an array of strategically placed microphones to reproduce spatial information about sound. They even work in slow motion, and the echoes look amazing.
It’s not hard to imagine a world where, in addition to the video we take on our smartphones, we’ll be able to get a three-dimensional look at the soundscape as well.