Using acoustics to determine room geometries

This article has been splashed all around the internet already, and I’m a little slow in getting this out.  In case you haven’t heard about it, Domanic et al (PNAS available paper) have come up with a way to determine the shape and materials of a room based on acoustical imaging. Currently, we are able to determine general characteristics of a room – its reverberation time and the amount of absorption within a room. But now they can measure the response of a known sound played in a room, and analyze the response received by an array of several microphones to determine the shape of the room. The concept isn’t new. It’s finally being able to do it that is the new and exciting thing here. I’m not sure how complicated a room’s geometry their algorithms can detect, but I wonder how sensitive/insensitive to noise their measurement system is.

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