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Silence! Japanese device shuts down annoying speech (VIDEO)

Monday - 3/5/2012, 7:55am  ET

WASHINGTON - Here's a new way to tell people to shut up.

Japanese researchers have developed a portable gun called the SpeechJammer that does exactly what it says. The device employs equipment that includes a microphone, speaker and laser pointer to confuse and then silence a particularly loquacious person.

Operating on the principle of delayed audio feedback -- which helps those that stutter improve their speech but has the opposite effect for those that don't -- the SpeechJammer plays a person's speech back to them at a delay of just a few hundred milliseconds, which is thought to affect the brain's cognitive processes.

The result is sweet, sweet silence.

"This effect can disturb people without any physical discomfort," the researchers say.

The device can work from more than 30 meters away, meaning it may be particularly handy during long lectures or in noisy movie theaters should it ever be available on the mass market. But it remains a prototype for now, according to Wired.com.

For examples of how the SpeechJammer works, check out the video below.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)