With over 6,000 languages spoken in the world, communication can often be convoluted to say the least. Whether traveling, communicating online, or trying to perform business in another country communication barriers create tension, and make conversing difficult. Scientists at University of California Berkley have developed technology which will allow humans to communicate through echolocation in the same way that bats and dolphins communicate with each other.
The significance of being able to communicate through echolocation
This could change the way that we travel, but also change the way we communicate across distances. There are potential military applications to the invention of this device. Using high frequency waves could allow communication from far distances with decreased chance of enemy interception of messages, and less chance that the enemy will be able to interpret the message being transmitted. Additionally, echolocation will allow ease of communication through thick walls and in underwater situations.
How can this type of communication be possible for humans?
Using advanced graphene sheets will enable the communication of these echolocation microphones. Berkley physicist Alex Zettl describes how this is the right time for this technology, “Until now, we have not had good wideband ultrasound transmitters or receivers. These new devices are a technology opportunity.” The technology uses graphene sheets as the diaphragm for speakers and microphones instead of the paper or plastic that they are usually composed of.
What is graphene?
Graphene is a material that, until recently, was very difficult and expensive to produce large quantities of, but thanks to recent innovations graphene has become easier to produce and cost less than ever to make. While Zettl doesn’t necessarily believe that the technology is ready for smart phones yet, he saw the advancements in graphene as a perfect chance to create the communication systems, “There’s a lot of talk about using graphene in electronics and small nanoscale devices, but they’re all a ways away. The microphone and loudspeaker are some of the closest devices to commercial viability, because we’ve worked out how to make the graphene and mount it, and it’s easy to scale up.” Graphene is becoming more and more important in current tech, and soon will be in numerous devices that we use every day. This type of communication using echolocation may not be viable for consumer use in any way yet, but in the near future it could be a technology that we use every day.