Teen Buzz is a ringtone that takes advantage of a high-frequency sound that grown-ups can’t hear. If adults can’t hear your phone ring, text-messaging becomes possible anywhere, anytime.
In a stunning re-imagining of a weapon used against them, teens may have outwitted the grown-ups again.
It seems that there is a very real medical phenomenon known as presbycusis or age related hearing loss which, according to The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, “begins after the age of 20 but is usually significant only in persons over 65″. It first affects the highest frequencies (18 to 20 kHz) notably in those who have turned 20 years of age”. It is possible to generate a high frequency sound that is audible only to teenagers.
You can try to hear Teen Buzz at Orange Days the site of an 18-year-old in Denmark (“I could hear it I think, made me feel slightly uncomfortable”). I couldn’t hear anything but headphone buzz through headphones; when I put Teen Buzz through a tuner and large speakers and cranked it up, the tuner started flashing “Overload” but I heard nothing.
Blogging about a sound I can’t hear has a lot of potential for egg on the face (lovely new clothes the emperor is wearing, no?) so I shot that link to 17-year-old Liz Petow of Providence, yesterday’s guest blogger.
She e-mailed back, “I hear a low buzzing and then a couple of cracking sounds. That’s really interesting.”
A final irony: You can download the Teen Buzz ringtone, but many grown-ups won’t know how to open the file: It’s a .torrent – a pointer to the file that the open-source peer-to-peer filesharing software BitTorrent and its clones can open.
Mosquito was invented by Howard Stapleton of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales, the sort of place you might expect to find fairies that only children can see.
Author Sheila Lennon
Date 25 May 2006