Inhuman megaphone app outwits human megaphone ban

Everyone knows that to lead a good protest you need a megaphone to fire up the group. To date however, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has been confounded in this practice by strict New York City laws requiring permits to amplify sound. Fortunately, crafty hackers seem to love OWS — and so the Inhuman Microphone app was born.

Using a human megaphone is simple — the speaker says something and the crowd chants each sentence in succession until those on the fringes can hear it. The Inhuman Microphone app does the same thing only using iPhones to replicate the human voices.

This difference is the key; while the voice started out human, a digital device is actually delivering it. A smartphone's speaker can't technically be classified as a human voice, but it sure can increase the volume of it and also spread through the crowds.

The process is simple. The speaker shouts the message into a phone running the Inhuman Microphone app, which then sends the call to Internet servers and then transmits it out to the smartphones of others in the crowd who have the app. Voilà — instant protest.

The app was built at this past weekend's London Music Hack Day Event. Hackers team up to dream up and build functional music apps over just 24 hours. David Velia, Henrik Pettersson, Tom Leitch and Tom Hannen made up the team that imagineered the app. Before you go thinking what they created was easy, it wasn't.

Not only did they have the time constraint of the event upon them, they also had to figure out how to get phones to synchronize so the crowd's phones play the original speaker's chant at the same time. Network latencies throw a monkey wrench in that happening live, so they incorporated Node, Socket.io and javascript MacGuyver style to make it all work.

Much like seeing the parade of rock stars and movie types hanging with their peeps at the protests, it is a little incongruous to think of protesters raising their smartphones in unison against excessive spending.

Never mind that! It is the spirit of the thing that counts and we know the app could have applications in the music world beyond protest songs. It could even take karaoke to new levels.

If you want to try the app, you can download it now, but only as a replayer. It looks like the potentially disastrous unveiling at the company holiday party is on hold for now.

Via Gizmodo

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