Up until recently, getting the best sound was about getting your speakers in exactly the right place, but what about if you could manipulate the sound waves instead?

Metasonics, a startup whose tech was founded by the University of Bristol and Sussex researchers, has found a way to do just that – meaning you could be listening, uninterrupted, to something completely different to the person next to you without a headphone in sight.

Launching at CES 2018, the world’s gathering place for the business of consumer technologies, the startup will soon demo how this technology can be used in in-car audio.

Using its tech, a passenger could listen to their favourite radio station whilst the driver concentrates on the GPS driving instructions.

Smart materials

To make the technology work, the startup uses acoustic metamaterials (synthetic material with an unnatural structure – pictured right) to dynamically shape and sculpt soundwaves in real time to create new and extended functionality with sound.

Sriram Subramanian (pictured left), Professor of Informatics at Sussex University, says: “Our exclusive patented solution will be disruptive to a broad range of application areas. It will enable step changes to be made in a diverse range of ultrasonic applications, from acoustic tweezers to medical imaging to a multitude of consumer products, and would fill an obvious gap in a variety of markets, providing a mainstay alternative to acoustic lenses and phased arrays.

“Metasonics technology provides enhanced control over sound and will give technology greater power to enhance people’s lives and will represent a step change in how sound may be used and managed in the digital age.”

CES 2018 will be held on 9 – 12 January in Las Vegas. To see Metasonics sound shifting demo in action you can register for a place on the CES website. You can also find out more about this Bristol-born tech on the Metasonics website or by following them on Twitter here: @MetasonicsCo.

Alice Whale