• The device is a thick plastic disk, about as wide as a pizza. Openings around the edge channel sound through 36 passages towards a microphone in the middle. Each passage modifies the sound in a subtly different way as it travels towards the centre — roughly as if an equalizer with different settings were affecting the sound in each slice.
  • The way the disk works is simple: the innards of each sector are patterned with a honeycomb-shaped structure in which each hexagonal cell is cut to a different height. The human ear is not able to distinguish how the sound is altered by different passages, but the team wrote an algorithm that, by analysing each sound, can almost always tell which direction it came from.
  • The device is an ‘acoustic metamaterial’: a structure patterned with smaller features and designed to affect the acoustic waves that pass through it. While the device’s bulk could be a limitation to its practical use, the team is very optimistic about its future potential.

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