Most crimes are heard but not seen. Earwitnesses outnumber eyewitnesses. However, there is a lack of investigative tools specifically tailored to the experience of sound – how it propagates through space and how these auditory experiences are etched into memory. This has led to earwitness testimony being considered inferior to eyewitness accounts. At Earshot, we seek to redress this imbalance by developing carefully designed tools to unlock witnesses’ acoustic memories.
Our approach involves restoring memories of acoustic events in a controlled and safe manner by giving language to acoustic experiences that are often difficult to describe in words alone. We use a combination of tones, white noise, convolutional reverberation, digital acoustic modelling and sound effects in conjunction with a verbal line of enquiry to elicit the vital information from people who have had only peripheral experiences of crimes.
These methods have proved particularly valuable in uncovering instances of illegal and inhumane incarceration and abduction, enabling us to extract crucial information from behind blindfolds or within echoing spaces concealed behind walls. These techniques have also been used to assess the sound of air strikes, helping to corroborate the origin of jets and drones heard over conflict zones.