The Open Source, Hackable Parametric Speaker. Focus a beam of sound at objects or into your head!
The Soundlazer Project
The Soundlazer parametric speaker project has been in the works for almost two years. This technology has been around since the 1960s but little advancement has been made using modern electronics components, until now!
What is the Soundlazer? A parametric speaker uses ultrasonic carrier waves to transmit audio to listeners a focused beam of sound. Generally speaking, only the person standing in front of a parametric speaker like the Soundlazer can hear the audio being transmitted. People to the sides of the parametric source hear little or no sound.
Low cost, Innovative Design: It has been a difficult process to make this technology available at such a low cost. It has taken a few years to come up with the correct design while improving the sound quality of the ultrasonic beam. Because of these innovations, the Soundlazer uses the latest in digital signal processing technology to achieve superb audio quality never before possible with a parametric speaker at this price.
Open Source and Hackable
If this project is successful on Kickstarter, all the design files and programming information will be made available on the Soundlazer website. For those that are really interested in playing with this technology, a programming port on the bottom of the Soundlazer can be used to upload your own custom waveforms and filters to the Soundlazer's internal microprocessor controlled DSP. The optional Sigma Studio software and USB programming tools are required and are included with each Soundlazer to those that pledge $500.00. If you want to wait, a pledge of as little as $175.00 will get you the Soundlazer kit and the programming tools can also be purchased from Digikey at any time.
Use your imagination: The effects of parametric speakers are not only a great demonstration of how sound propagates through air but also offer many useful applications. Some examples are:
Fun with friends: The Soundlazer is simply a cool gadget to play with.
Ambient Background Sound: Put the Soundlazer behind a plant or table in a room and "beam" background sounds or music into the room. Unlike other speakers, the Soundlazer will create virtual sound sources around the room.
Showroom Floors: Beam important product information, advertisements or promotions quietly and discreetly to individual customers in your store.
Animatronics and Displays: By pointing the Soundlazer at a stuffed animal, animated display or other object, the sound will appear come directly from the object the Soundlazer is pointed at.
Public Safety: Warning selected people in a group of localized dangers or obstructions.
Advertising: Selective billboards where only the person in front of a particular ad can hear the message.
Security and Alarms: Clear and precise messages regarding break-ins, fires and other emergencies.
And there are many more uses!
Soundlazer Circuit Board
The Soundlazer circuit board is packed with tiny technology. It contains 39 piezo ultrasonic transducers, an Analog Devices ADAU1701 Digital Signal Processor and lots of other surface mount parts. Normally, all this technology would cost more but with the help of Kickstarter, we can get discount pricing by manufacturing many complete units at the same time.
An adjustable stand makes it easy to point the Soundlazer in any direction.
The Soundlazer case is machined out of solid aluminum to give it that modern look like many popular computers today. Casting and/or machining these cases isn't cheap and even in large quantities they are still expensive. That's where the Kickstarter community comes in to help lower the cost of manufacturing via volume orders. Hopefully, we can all have our very own Soundlazer to play with!
Attach the Soundlazer to your iPod, iPad, computer or other source and have fun. Bounce the sound off of a wall or make it appear to come from inside your head! The possibilities for this new and exciting technology are unlimited.
Here is what you get in the kit:
Each kit contains the Soundlazer, Audio Cable and Power Supply
For a pledge of $175.00, you get a fully functional Soundlazer kit, which includes the fully assembled circuit board, power supply and audio cable. Source code, schematics and other important instructions will also be made available. This is a low cost way to get started experimenting with ultrasonic sound waves and parametric speaker technology.
Because of all the technology and quality of the enclosure, building the first run of this product is going to be a bit pricey. The SMT components make building these boards by hand impossible. We have lowered the goal to the bare minimum needed to kick this project off the ground by manufacturing only 250 functional circuit boards and all accessories. If we are successful, who knows where this will lead. There are many useful applications and we look forward to hearing how you use your Soundlazer.
Please visit Soundlazer.com for more information on this exciting project.
International Shipping Costs
It's hard to know exactly what international shipping will cost but I have had so many requests, here is what to add to the shipping:
"Kit": UK, Europe, Asia, most other areas: Add $20.00 to your pledge for a total of $195.00
"Kit with Case": UK, Europe, Asia, most other areas: Add $25.00 to your pledge for a total of $300.00
Backer Question: I know a single-board design makes fabrication simpler. It seems like splitting the board up and placing the electronics on a separate board behind the transducers would give the setup a cleaner design. Have you considered it?
Yes. In fact the board can be cut yourself if you want. There is a parting line between the two halves. I will likely add some sort of easy split on the manufactured one. Personally, I wanted something thinner, like the iPod.
The 39 Transducers each produce 120.5dB at 40kHz. This is the carrier that creates the sound and sends the signal over a distance of 20 - 30 feet. There are actually 39 seperate signals produced that interact with each other to form the sound you hear. The level of audio you hear is somewhere a bit louder than normal speech.
The problem is that at close range, you will be hit with 120.5Db of sound pressure that you can't hear! It starts hurting your ears after 10 minutes. Believe me, I know first hand. More realistically, you would point it at the cubical wall or some other object to bounce it so you aren't hit with direct waves. It creates a nice background audio that doesn't travel very far in open areas like offices As mentioned in the video, the sound will actually bounce off walls and other objects so the effect can be pretty cool.
I started out wanting to list this on Kickstarter at $195.00 but felt that it should be as low as possible without me going broke and also being able to build them as promised. I based my numbers on real cost and at a price that I know I will be able to deliver quickly and with quality components.
Here are the numbers for the cost to build a single Soundlazer:
$17.50 estimated Kickstarter Fee
$10.00 Shipping to most places in USA
$39.00 Transducer Array (39@ $1.00 each FOB USA)
$13.00 Power adapter (FOB USA)
$3.50 Stereo audio cable (FOB USA)
$15.00 Misc building costs (board layout, stencils, etc)
$77.00 Circuit Board, Assembly and Testing. Made in California, USA
These pledges are for people who love working with electronics and want to build their own Soundlazer. These reward levels are for the blank boards only. Components are not included. Are parts list and building instructions will be available on our website if this project is funded.
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Pledge $25 or moreYou selected
For pledges of $25.00, we will send you a blank circuit board as a token of our appreciation. All schematics and a parts list will be provided along with setup and other instructions. It won't have any components on it but you can build one yourself the same way I did. This board will also make an attractive conversation piece to display proudly. Shipping to US addresses is included.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $50 or moreYou selected
Get two (2) Soundlazer blank circuit boards along with a nice stand to display on your desk or shelf. Use the other board to add components and build your own Soundlazer. All schematics and a parts list will be provided along with setup and other instructions. Shipping to US addresses is included.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $175 or moreYou selected
While we have done our best to get the cost of the Soundlazer down to the lowest amount possible, the ultrasonic transmitters and DSP are all expensive components. Pledges of $175.00 will receive a fully functional Soundlazer “kit”. Even though we are calling this a kit, it is actually a completely assembled and working Soundlazer without the aluminum case. All cables and power supply are also included. Shipping to US addresses is included.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $195 or moreYou selected
Soundlazer Kit with International Shipping - While we have done our best to get the cost of the Soundlazer down to the lowest amount possible, the ultrasonic transmitters and DSP are all expensive components. Pledges of $195.00 will receive a fully functional Soundlazer “kit”. Even though we are calling this a kit, it is actually a completely assembled and working Soundlazer without the aluminum case. All cables and power supply are also included. Shipping to UK, Europe, Asia and most of parts of the world.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $275 or moreYou selected
Pledges of $275.00 will receive a fully functional Soundlazer in its beautifully Red anodized aluminum case with black stand. Depending on the success of this project, other color choices may be available. All cables and power supply are also included. Shipping to US addresses is included.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $300 or moreYou selected
Soundlazer with Aluminum case and International Shipping - Pledges of $300.00 will receive a fully functional Soundlazer in its beautifully Red anodized aluminum case with black stand. Depending on the success of this project, other color choices may be available. All cables and power supply are also included. Shipping to UK, Europe, Asia and most of parts of the world.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
Pledges of $500.00 will receive a fully functional Soundlazer in its beautiful red anodized aluminum case with black stand. These backers will also receive fully licensed Analog Devices Sigma Studio software along with the USB programming cable. These developer tools will allow custom sound processing, waveform generation and other functions to be experimented with via the Soundlazer microprocessor. All cables and power supply are also included. Free shipping to US addresses.Estimated delivery:
- (60 days)