CHAPTER 5All Ears

Our ability to localize sounds quickly and accurately is key to survival. Identifying the general location of the rattle of a rattlesnake preparing to strike can be just as important as localizing the beep of a delivery van backing into your car. In both cases, where milliseconds count, you can take action before the threat is in your visual field.

The ability to localize sounds also contributes to our social fabric. It’s appropriate to face someone as they address you, for example—just don’t eyeball them if they’re your military superior. However, the process of sound localization is computationally intensive, especially when the noise level is high. To cope, we have developed extensive biophysical signal-processing capabilities ...

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