Using fairly rudimentary tools, Japanese researchers have created a device which has proven effective at cutting off human speech without the need for physical intervention. The "SpeechJammer," as it's called, looks more like something a police officer would rely on to measure your speed as opposed to what it's actually built for.
How does it work, exactly? Essentially, the SpeechJammer uses our own words against us. It's generally understood that speech is easily interrupted (or "jammed") when our words are recorded and repeated back to us within milliseconds of initially being uttered. As explained in a paper by a pair of Japanese researchers, this artificial delay — known as Delayed Auditory Feedback — is said to have a direct impact on cognitive processess in the brain. The SpeechJammer takes that idea mobile.
An initial prototype combined a microphone and speaker within an acrylic case, which communicated with a host PC that handled delay and playback duties. Both the mic and speaker were directional, enabling the device to target a specific individual. It wasn't long before the researchers had a second SpeechJammer model, this time featuring a built-in motherboard that offered a tether-free experience. As for potential use cases, the paper cites public libraries and unruly discussions as examples of where such a device could come in handy. Sadly, there's no mention of plans to offer a commercial version of SpeechJammer. We wouldn't mind carrying one around for the occasional longwinded keynote presentation.