Chant Disruptor At Stadium Near You?

Soccer games in Europe have been disturbed by hooligans chanting abusive or racist slogans; fortunately, science has come to the rescue. Sander van Wijngaarden, who researches human acoustics at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research in Delft, has successfully tested a "chant disruptor."

We knew that people become confused if you feed their speech back with a delay... So we wanted to try and apply it in a group context," says Wijngaarden. He assembled his equipment along with about 350 volunteers. Speakers simulated a typical crowd chant; the volunteers were encouraged to join in. However, one of the speakers replayed the chant with a short delay.

It turns out that a delay of 200 milliseconds to about one full second makes it extremely difficult for the volunteers to continue the chant. Stadiums could be built with special speakers built in to discourage unwelcome chants.

In a way, these systems are about noise-cancellation; of course, the loudspeakers playing the delayed version of the chant just make it difficult to continue, they don't cancel the sound. Science fictional noise-cancellation started in 1956 with Robert Heinlein's hush corner followed by Arthur C. Clarke's Fenton silencer in 1957.

See the brief article on Hooligan chants silenced by delayed echoes.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/15/2006)

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