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Sanyo developing earphone LSI chip that doubles as a microphone

Darren Murph

We've got phones so tiny we can barely dial our intended contacts, Bluetooth headsets that allow calls to be placed by just lifting a hand, and now Sanyo Semiconductor is giving the couch dweller in us all another glimpse of jubilation with its latest chip. Although typical BT earpieces combine a speaker and microphone for an all-in-one conversation solution, even the tiniest of units aren't exactly discrete, and if your surroundings happen to drown out your voice, your only solution is to escape the racket or yell louder. Sanyo is hoping to ease the frustrations of current handsfree applications by creating an LSI chip that can be worn in one's ear and yet still transmit outgoing audio. The device operates by picking up the faint diaphragm movements that occur whenever you utter even a whisper, and magnifies the vibrations into spoken words that your recipient can comprehend. While the eardrum emits voice signals "at a strength of about one-30th that of the voice itself," the circuity can reportedly transform comments made under your breath into phrases heard loud and clear. The company isn't handing out release details nor giving any indications on how much these will cost, but it looks like we'll all be one step closer to double-agent status should these ever hit store shelves.

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