Superhuman spatial hearing technology for ultrasonic frequencies

Ville Pulkki*, Leo McCormack, Raimundo Gonzalez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


Ultrasonic sources are inaudible to humans, and while digital signal processing techniques are available to bring ultrasonic signals into the audible range, there are currently no systems which also simultaneously permit the listener to localise the sources through spatial hearing. Therefore, we describe a method whereby an in-situ listener with normal binaural hearing can localise ultrasonic sources in real-time; opening-up new applications, such as the monitoring of certain forms of wild life in their habitats and man-made systems. In this work, an array of ultrasonic microphones is mounted to headphones, and the spatial parameters of the ultrasonic sound-field are extracted. A pitch-shifted signal is then rendered to the headphones with spatial properties dictated by the estimated parameters. The processing provides the listener with the spatial cues that would normally occur if the acoustic wave produced by the source were to arrive at the listener having already been pitch-shifted. The results show that the localisation accuracy delivered by the proof-of-concept device implemented here is almost as good as with audible sources, as tested both in the laboratory and under conditions in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11608
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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