A team of researchers at University College London has developed a method of keeping objects drawn to sound waves in the air when other things interfere with the levitation path. In their paper published in Science Advances, the group describes its self-propelled drainage system.
Previous research has shown that it is possible to put things off by shooting at sound waves. Because sound waves are as insignificant as the air particles that move in a specific direction, the object being dropped will fall when the thing interferes with sound waves. In this new experiment, researchers have developed new features to address this problem.
To prevent sound waves from being disturbed, the researchers increased the number of speakers used in their work, using 256. They also added software to control each speaker. The grid organized the speakers, and unique sound waves drew the objects. By arranging the speakers in a certain way, the team could make the system work together to keep something above the grid in the air despite interruptions. When some sound waves were blocked, other sound waves were redirected to replace them.
Researchers have proven that their system works by experimenting with a white rabbit printed 3D as a distraction. Items were placed next to the rabbit wherever it was. In another experiment, researchers removed beads from a rabbit that once became a flying butterfly. They also pulled out a transparent cloth that they used as a screen to show the rabbit they had printed. And they released one drop of water on top of a glass of water, indicating that their system would work even when the disturbing object was a moving glass of liquid.
Researchers suggest that their system might be used for exhibition purposes, such as in museums or advertising. Next, they plan to expand their approach to allow it to catch many annoying things at once.