Car making a weird noise? New portable ‘sound camera’ can help spot the cause

SeeSV-S205 acoustic imagerEvery car owner has dealt with a mystery noise. Whether its a rattle deep within the bowels of the dashboard or a phantasmic shriek from the engine compartment, they can be quite vexing.

Luckily, science has an answer. The SeeSV-S205 is an acoustic imager that lets you actually see sounds, and where they’re coming from.

Identifying the source of a sound that could be buried amongst a car’s thousands of moving, vibrating parts can be difficult with the naked ear, but the SeeSV-S205 acts as a “sound camera” to pinpoint them.

The pentagonal device may look like a prop from Star Trek, but it’s full of microphones that pick up the distribution of sound, in the same way thermal imaging sensors pick up the distribution of heat to paint a picture in low visibility conditions.

Normally, this requires an array of individual microphones, but the SeeSV-S205 puts everything in one device. It contains 30 microphones arranged in a spiral shape.

SeeSV-S205 sound imageThe result is a colored image not unlike that of the aforementioned thermal imaging camera, with sound intensity registered on a scale of violet to red, with red being the loudest.

With its wireless, ergonomic design and relatively light (four-pound) weight, the SeeSV-S205 could easily be used to troubleshoot a car’s mechanical maladies. So far, no pricing information has been announced.

Knowing exactly where a sound is coming from can narrow the detective work down to a specific component or component set. The more knowledge, the better.