Dr. Maurice Goldman, a retired dentist, is the U.S. managing director for Inferno, a line of products that markets itself as a “sound barrier.” The primary effect of the device, which sounds like a loud siren, is to force people to leave the protected area, he says. However, if the intruder doesn’t leave immediately, Inferno’s effects include “vertigo, nausea, and pain in the chest.”
Weinberger, natually, had to give it a try.
Two days later, we sat in a hotel office, with Dr. Goldman, holding the device. The version of Inferno he was demonstrating looked a bit like a long, slim speaker. You can’t take a pair of nail scissors on a plane these days, but Dr. Goldman has traveled around the world with Inferno and has had few, if any problems, boarding aircraft.
First, I dispatched Nathan, my husband, out of the room, using the logic that if it really did make us sick, one of us should be spared. Then I realized I needed pictures, so I called him back in, and without warning, Goldman turned the Inferno on. I’m not sure words can do justice to what can only be described as the most unbearable, gut-wrenching noise I’ve ever heard in my life. I screamed a few expletives, Nathan almost dropped the camera, and Dr. Goldman turned it off.
Here’s how it works: Inferno uses four frequencies spread out over 2 to 5 kHz. The idea behind it is that unlike a regular siren, these particular frequencies have a uniquely disturbing effect on people (and presumably cats, dogs and any other living thing). At 123 dB, it’s loud, but not significantly louder than any other alarm system. The advantage, according to Dr. Goldman, is the combination of frequencies. The human ear just doesn’t like it. I agree, I really didn’t like it.
How did I feel after the impromptu test? Nauseous, dizzy, or in pain? Hard to say, but Nathan looked pretty unhappy with me for the next hour or so. In fact, he still grumbles a bit when I mention his unwitting recruitment as a camera man/guinea pig. Love hurts.
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