Mosquito Tones

Teenagers’ latest weapon in the fight to do SMS in the classroom: stealth ringtones. Based on the principle that people lose their auditory sensitivity to higher-pitched tones as they grow older, kids have been loading up phones with what are essentially dog whistles. Ironically, the technique was spawned by a device called the Mosquito, which was designed to drive teenagers out of stores while leaving adults unfazed. The stealth ringtones backfire when used in the presence of an adult who hasn’t yet lost (all of) their high-tone sensitivity. Techdirt has more.

A .wav sample of the tone can be “heard” here — totally silent to me.

Music: Can :: Pinch

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6 Replies to “Mosquito Tones”

  1. Interesting.

    Can’t hear it in iTunes or in the browser.

    VLC plays it as a weird alternating phase sound.

    Audacity with the volume up, I can hear it quite clearly and painfully over the rest of my office noise. I’m 30. Hearing this loudly would be really irritating.

    If you can’t hear it, and you’re on a mac, try using audacity to listen to it. I wonder if core audio is somehow clipping sound above a certain frequency.

  2. OK, I just tried it with Audacity, Firefox, and in the Finder. Contrary to my earlier post, I found that I could barely hear it if I turned the volume all the way up, and that it was the same in all three applications. So I’m not seeing the difference with Audacity that you are.

  3. Weird. I opened it, couldn’t hear a thing. Got Rowan in the room and she said she could hear it. Then I turned the volume up full: I could hear it very clearly, Rowan was wincing. When I turned the volume back down I half-imagined I could still hear it, but it does seem to become audible fairly suddenly as I move my volume slider up above around -7dB. Nice to see (hear?) that all that gig photography hasn’t totally mashed my ears.

    FWIW, I’m 37.

  4. One of my buddies played that for all of us in the office. We could all hear it (being in our twenties). The people in their thirties could kind of hear it, but they weren’t as sensitive to the sound. It’s not too annoying until the volume is turned up, then it sends hypnotic “must smash electronic device” tones.

  5. I can hear it, at age 29, but it seems rather faint… I’d never be able to isolate it enough from background noise if it were my ringtone..

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