Questions for ‘Future cars may offer personal sound zones — no earphones needed’

A girl sitting in a car next to her brother listening to headphones

Today, you wear earphones if you want to listen to music in a car without disturbing others. Someday soon, the car’s headrest may broadcast those tunes so that you can hear them but others in the car won’t have to.

Compassionate Eye Foundation/Steven Errico/DigitalVision/Getty Images Plus

To accompany Future cars may offer personal sound zones — no earphones needed’  


Before Reading:

  1. Imagine the following challenge: A loudspeaker lies before you, and you must figure out whether the speaker is playing music or not. The catch, however, is that you must wear noise-canceling headphones. These headphones block sound completely, so if the loudspeaker is playing music, you wouldn’t be able to hear it. How might you use your other senses to answer this question? Explain stepwise what you would do. How would you make your choice?
  2. Sci-fi movies often show gigantic space explosions — and accompany them with a loud boom. But real space is a very, very quiet place. Space explosions, if they did happen, would be silent. (Next time, hit the mute button for more realistic space explosions!) Why do you think sound carries on Earth, but not in space? What does Earth have that outer space does not have?

During Reading:

  1. What are the researchers in France trying to invent? Explain how their invention differs from normal headphones.
  2. According to Jan Mayes, what risk does headphone or earbud use present? How could a student use headphones in a way that reduces that risk?
  3. Why are multiple loudspeakers required to make this idea work, rather than just one?
  4. List three factors that Patricia Davies says could affect how sound carries when inside a vehicle.
  5. What does an acoustician study?
  6. In the context of this study, what is meant by the term “sweet spot?”
  7. How many loudspeakers did Manuel Melon and his team use for each headrest?
  8. What problem did Melon and his team encounter that caused them to add microphones? What did these microphones measure?
  9. What is an algorithm? How was an algorithm used in this study?

After Reading:

  1. Besides vehicles, can you imagine any other places we could use this technology? List three locations. Pick one location to write about further, and circle your choice. Then, imagine you are trying to persuade a company to develop such technology. Write a pretend email to that company. Try to convince this company that such technology would be useful. Refer to the findings of this study to strengthen your argument.
  2. If this technology was made available to you, would you try it? Explain why or why not. Consider the problems that the researchers encountered when doing this study. Then identify another issue that might arise in the future if this technology became mainstream.