Say what, Batman? 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Are those bats talking about ME? Bats can both squeak and hear at frequencies so high, you’d need SUPER-hearing to detect it! Or at least – BAT-hearing?

Enter Ville Pulkki and colleagues at Aalto University in Finland. They developed technology to make this dream come true! 

How? They made a tiny ball of ultra-powerful microphones that can stick off of headphones. It looks a little like a unicorn horn – cute! It was tested with a variety of sounds, including bat calls. 

A sensor in the tiny ball translates the pitch down into the human frequency range. This lets humans hear the sounds – and even determine what direction the noise is coming from!

Improving hearing-related technology could help us learn about the communications of animals like bats. Or even detect gas leaks. Maybe ultrasonic music will be the next big trend – just put on your unicorn microphone hat and enjoy!!

Now excuse me, I’m off to have a chat with Batman! A very quiet chat.

Reference: Pulkki, V., McCormack, L., Gonzalez, R. Superhuman spatial hearing technology for ultrasonic frequencies. Scientific Reports, 11 (2021).