If you work with machinery, engines or appliances of any type, then you’ve likely experienced the frustration of hearing a troublesome noise coming from somewhere, but not being able to pinpoint where. If only you could just grab a camera, and take a picture that showed you the noise’s location. Well, soon you should be able to do so, as that’s just what the SeeSV-S205 sound camera does.

Developed in a collaboration between SM Instrument Company and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, the pentagon-shaped camera has three handles on the back, and a total weight of 1.78 kg (3.9 lb). It reportedly can be easily held in one hand. Other sound cameras do already exist, but they’re generally larger, heavier contraptions that need to be assembled and mounted on a tripod.

On the flat face of the SeeSV-S205, there are a total of 30 MEMS microphones arranged in five spiral arrays. Utilizing a beamforming algorithm, these are able to detect and locate both stationary and moving noise sources. Additionally, a high-resolution optical camera located in the middle of the device records images at a rate of 25 per second.

The output from the microphones and the optical camera are displayed on a linked computer. They’re combined to show both a real-time image of the subject, with a thermograph-like color-coded overlay that indicates the location(s) at which the noise is loudest. A rattling dashboard, shot with the sound camera, can be seen in the following video.

Part of the reason that the SeeSV-S205 is so much smaller and simpler than other sound cameras lies in the fact that it doesn’t detect as wide of a range of frequencies. Co-inventor Prof. Seok-Hyung Bae explained that this is because “Abnormal noises coming from industrial products have relatively higher frequencies.” As a result, it’s limited to noises between 350 Hz and 12 kHz – which should apparently be all that it really needs.

The SeeSV-S205 won a Red Dot product design award in February. There’s currently no word on availability or pricing.

UPDATE (July 2, 2013): THP Systems has informed us that it now distributes the SeeSV-S205 to dealers across Europe (including the UK). Prices start at US$55,000.

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