I’m speechless

What so many of us have been waiting for — and in an election year, no less!


Japanese researchers have invented a speech-jamming gadget that painlessly forces people into silence.

Kazutaka Kurihara of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and Koji Tsukada of Ochanomizu University, developed a portable “SpeechJammer” gun that can silence people more than 30 meters away.

The device works by recording its target’s speech then firing their words back at them with a 0.2-second delay, which affects the brain’s cognitive processes and causes speakers to stutter before silencing them completely.

Describing the device in their research paper, Kurihara and Tsukada wrote, “In general, human speech is jammed by giving back to the speakers their own utterances at a delay of a few hundred milliseconds. This effect can disturb people without any physical discomfort, and disappears immediately by stopping speaking.”

They found that the device works better on people who were reading aloud than engaged in “spontaneous speech” and it cannot stop people making meaningless sounds, such as “ahhh,” that are uttered over a long time period.

Kurihara and Tsukada suggested the speech-jamming gun could be used to hush noisy speakers in public libraries or to silence people in group discussions who interrupt other people’s speeches.

“There are still many cases in which the negative aspects of speech become a barrier to the peaceful resolution of conflicts,” the authors said.


  1. It’s only a small step from this to freeze rays and “phasers on stun”, you know.

  2. But wait… if it shoots the speakers words back at them with a slight delay, how does that help in a library (or other place)? You are making just as much noise with the silencer gun than the speaker is, right? And when you quit shooting their words back at them, then they can resume speaking, right?

    I don’t get it.

  3. Deak Pete says:

    OK…here’s another one for you not to get. In my church, we have two big screens for display of appropriate graphic images, words to hymns, new Mass translation, etc. The projectors aim at the screens from opposite sides, so at first glance, the images or words would appear to cross paths. Why are the words not scrambled on the screens?

  4. Sounds worrisome to me. I can see it being used to silence free speech.

  5. I have seen this in action every time Obama starts talking without a teleprompter.

  6. Of course to be fair, it must have been in use a lot of the time even when W. Bush had a teleprompter.

  7. Thanks a lot Deacon Greg! My wife just ordered one! ;-)

  8. I could see the marketing motto now: A Husband’s Best Friend!

  9. I have bad news for the developers of this device – people can train themselves to overcome the effects of this “jamming.” How to I know this?? I had a cellphone that frequently caused an “echo” effect to happen during conversations. The person on the other end of the conversation didn’t hear it – just me. It was really annoying, but my contact wasn’t up yet so I gradually learned to tune out the delayed echos of my end of the conversation and just keep on blabbing.

    Yeah, I’m a woman. So? ;)

  10. Thank you Bonnie, you made my morning!!

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