#1244: Spacears

In space, no-one can hear you scream…so today’s invention is 3-D hearing for spacewalkers.

The number of people who work in the near vacuum of space is set to increase. These people hear only radio transmissions, the sounds of their suits and their own physiology.

First, equip each spacewalker’s helmet with stereo headphones. All astronauts, and anything movable, would be fitted with a small transmitter sending out a chirp of radio every second or so. These transmissions would be unique to the source person or object.

A processor aboard the Astro’s helmet would receive these and translate them into characteristic, realistic noises in stereo (an approach from the seven o’clock position by a friend or a passing robot arm could be perceived in advance, thus boosting safety and general ‘situation awareness’.

Toolboxes drifting off would soon be detected by their simulated wooshing into the distance as well as an occasional plaintive cry of ‘help’.

The headphones would also drown out one’s stomach rumblings when it’s time for that dehydrated stew, again.

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