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  • Definition: Parametric array loudspeakers use ultrasonic waves to create highly directional sound beams.

  • Mechanism: They work by modulating ultrasonic waves with audio signals, which demodulate in the air to produce audible sound.

  • Applications: Commonly used in museums, galleries, retail, digital signage, and public address systems.

  • Safety: Generally safe for humans as they operate at frequencies higher than the human hearing range.

  • Advantages: Provide focused sound without disturbing surrounding areas, useful in targeted audio applications.

  • Limitations: Low diffraction means sound can be blocked by obstacles, limiting their use in some environments.

  • History: Concept first observed in the 1950s by Peter J. Westervelt and later explained theoretically in the 1960s.

How They Work [1]

  • Mechanism: Parametric array loudspeakers use a nonlinear transduction mechanism to generate sound.

  • Ultrasonic Waves: They emit high-frequency ultrasonic waves modulated with audio signals.

  • Demodulation: As these waves travel through the air, they demodulate to produce audible sound.

  • Components: Typically consist of a transducer array, a drive circuit, and an audio source.

  • Directivity: The sound produced is highly directional, forming a narrow beam.



Applications [1]

  • Museums and Galleries: Used to provide targeted audio without disturbing other exhibits.

  • Retail: Enhances customer experience with focused audio messages.

  • Digital Signage: Delivers clear audio to specific areas, improving communication.

  • Public Address Systems: Used in environments where targeted announcements are needed.

  • Virtual Source Effects: Creates immersive audio experiences in various settings.

  • Command and Control Centers: Provides clear, directed audio for critical operations.

  • Medical: Used in ultrasound and tomography applications.


Safety [1]

  • Frequency Range: Operate at frequencies up to 40 kHz, higher than the human hearing range.

  • Research: Studies show no adverse effects on humans from exposure to these frequencies.

  • Comparison: Commercially available parametric speakers are less powerful than military-grade devices.

  • Usage: Safe for use in public and commercial settings, including homes.


Advantages [1]

  • Focused Sound: Provides highly directional audio, minimizing disturbance to surrounding areas.

  • Privacy: Ideal for applications requiring private or localized sound delivery.

  • Clarity: Reduces background noise interference, enhancing audio clarity.

  • Versatility: Can be used in various environments, from public spaces to private homes.




Limitations [2]

  • Low Diffraction: Sound travels in a straight line, making it easy to block.

  • Obstacles: Objects between the speaker and listener can obstruct sound.

  • Adoption: Limited use in general music listening due to directional nature.

  • Complexity: Requires precise positioning for optimal performance.



History [3]

  • Discovery: First observed by Peter J. Westervelt in the 1950s.

  • Theoretical Explanation: Explained theoretically in the 1960s at an Acoustical Society of America meeting.

  • Development: Further developed through experimental and theoretical work in the following decades.

  • Recognition: Westervelt received the Lord Rayleigh Medal for his contributions.





Future Prospects [2]

  • Innovations: Potential for use in futuristic 'headphones' without earpieces.

  • Tracking: Development of phased arrays to track listeners and provide personalized audio.

  • Commercial Use: Increasing interest in high-fidelity commercial audio systems.

  • Challenges: Addressing issues like low diffraction and precise tracking for broader adoption.



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