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Monday, May 02, 2005
Inventor Creates Soundless Sound System

Elwood "Woody" Norris holds 47 U.S. patents, including one for a digital handheld recorder and another for a handsfree headset.

Elwood "Woody" Norris pointed a metal frequency emitter at one of perhaps 30 people who had come to see his invention. The emitter -- an aluminum square -- was hooked up by a wire to a CD player. Norris switched on the CD player.

"There's no speaker, but when I point this pad at you, you will hear the waterfall," said the 63-year-old Californian.

And one by one, each person in the audience did, and smiled widely.

Targeted Sound
Norris' HyperSonic Sound system has won him an award coveted by inventors -- the US$500,000 annual Lemelson-MIT Prize. It works by sending a focused beam of sound above the range of human hearing. When it lands on you, it seems like sound is coming from inside your head.

Norris said the uses for the technology could come in handy -- in cars, in the airport or at home.

"Imagine your wife wants to watch television and you want to read a book, like the intellectual you are," he said to the crowd. "Imagine you are a lifeguard or a coach and you want to yell at someone, he'll be the only one to hear you."

Norris holds 47 U.S. patents, including one for a digital handheld recorder and another for a handsfree headset. He said the digital recorder made him an inventor for life.

"That sold for $5 million," Norris laughed. "That really made me want to be an inventor."

He demonstrated the sound system at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, also called OMSI, last Thursday.

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