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The Visual Microphone: Passive Recovery Of Sound From Video

Using a bag of chips to capture sound via video...

There’s some interesting research going on regarding the ability to capture sound via video of common items in a room, such as a bag of potato chips or a house plant. The project is a joint effort between MIT, Microsoft and Adobe.

As the brief on YouTube notes: “When sound hits an object, it causes small vibrations of the object’s surface. We show how, using only high-speed video of the object, we can extract those minute vibrations and partially recover the sound that produced them, allowing us to turn everyday objects—a glass of water, a potted plant, a box of tissues, or a bag of chips—into visual microphones.

“We recover sounds from high-speed footage of a variety of objects with different properties, and use both real and simulated data to examine some of the factors that affect our ability to visually recover sound. We evaluate the quality of recovered sounds using intelligibility and SNR metrics and provide input and recovered audio samples for direct comparison.

“We also explore how to leverage the rolling shutter in regular consumer cameras to recover audio from standard frame-rate videos, and use the spatial resolution of our method to visualize how sound-related vibrations vary over an object’s surface, which we can use to recover the vibration modes of an object.”

The video below explains more, and there’s additional information as well as a white paper available here.


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Dante replaces point-to-point audio and video connections with easy-to-use, scalable, flexible networking. Adopted by hundreds of manufacturers in thousands of professional products, Dante is the de facto standard for modern AV connectivity.