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Issue 471, 22 October 2001

Irresistible sound cuts crime

New applications are in the pipeline for the Localizer, the sound technology patented by Professor Withington, already in use in emergency sirens, vehicle reversing alerts and emergency evacuation signals.The technology is owned by spin-off company Sound Alert Technology plc, and is being licensed for use by manufacturers worldwide.

The Localizer uses broadband sound waves enabling the human ear to locate where the sound comes from. The technology looks set to help catch criminals, and enable harrassed commuters to know exactly whose mobile phone is ringing on a busy train.

One of the disadvantages of using CCTV footage is that it rarely manages to capture that all-important full-facial shot to enable identification. With a Localizer attached to a CCTV camera, when a short burst of broadband noise is emitted, the natural reaction is to turn towards the sound, giving the camera a clear image.

Professor Withington explains: "We carried out some trials in a Leeds supermarket, for BBC Tomorrow's World, using someone who trains security guards, so knows all the tricks of the trade. When the Localiser went off, he couldnŐt resist turning towards the sound."

The Localizer's applications are widespread, and more are under research all the time. As well as reducing crime, the unique traceable sound may also eliminate for ever that terrible moment when a mobile rings, and everyone reaches for their phone!

For more information, see the Sound Alert website.

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