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BBC Future

60 Second Idea

A remote that can reduce street noises

A social geographer proposes creating a “sensory force field”, which can modulate the amount of sounds that hit you as you walk or cycle around a city.

Each week a global thinker from the worlds of philosophy, science, psychology or the arts is given a minute to put forward a radical, inspiring or controversial idea – no matter how improbable – that they believe would change the world.

This week social geographer Anja Kanngieser proposes a remote control designed to modulate the amount of sensory information you get while cycling round a city.

“The invention I would like to propose is a remote control that can modulate the amount of sensory information you get – the amount of sound or smell, visual information, etc.

I came up with this idea because I cycle around London quite a lot, and every day I notice how much I am bombarded with the sounds of traffic and the smells of the city and visual advertising and media. I think this is something that in general people deal with in a number of different ways. Often it relies on putting more information or stimulus into your body, like wearing headphones or looking in your phone.

A remote control would allow you to tone down what’s there. I imagine it would work like a force field you can set at your ideal level because everyone is different and everyone has different ideal levels, and it just filters everything that comes in and out.”

You can listen to Anja discuss her idea with Finnish cybersecurity expert Mikko Hypponen and Kenyan vulture scientist Munir Virani in more detail on the BBC World Service programme The Forum, where you can also download more 60-second ideas.

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