For animals, being able to listen to sounds in the environment opens up a new world; a new way to sense their surroundings. Many animals have evolved to use sound for detecting prey and predators, finding and courting with potential mates, 'seeing' the world with echolocation, and reaching a level of complexity to enable speech. In many cases, having an acute auditory sense can really be a matter of life and death. Unsurprisingly, the importance of detecting the sounds emitted by friends and foe has driven the evolution of remarkable acoustic sensors. When we can hear a pin drop, we do so because that ability, a long time ago, could have saved our lives. This level of sensitivity, in humans, mammals, and insects among others has reached a point where some animals can detect sound that is in some respects only just distinguishable from noise - from the thermal buffeting to which every sensor is ultimately restricted. In order to achieve this, animals have evolved many tricks to enhance their auditory capability. Our research investigates the mechanisms of hearing found in insects, and aims to achieve the level of sophistication, sensitivity and functionality of insect hearing in engineered systems. Such bio-inspired sensors would have the potential to improve the industrial use of acoustic sensors and actuators, from medical ultrasound imaging, non-destructive testing of materials, and even robot guidance.
CUE has several projects in the research area of Insect Acoustics, including:
Please note that Dr James Windmill and the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering will be hosting the next Invertebrate Sound and Vibration meeting (ISV2013) here in Strathclyde, 23rd to 26th July 2013. Please see www.isv2013.org for more details.
Dr James Windmill
Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering
Dept of Electronic and Electrical Engineering
204 George Street
T: +44 (0)141 548 2694
F: +44 (0)141 548 2950