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Does Gallery Place's new audio teen-repellent work? Try it out.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins

Theresa Vargas writes about an effort by Gallery Place business owners to chase away loitering teenagers by zapping them with a device that emits a high-pitched, headache-inducing sound that only young ears can hear.

The Mosquito, as the $1,000 device is called, is apparently annoying not only its intended targets, but also some of their sharp-hearing elders.

Want to know whether to take ear plugs on your next trip to Chinatown (or just want to drive whippersnappers away from your computer)?

Try out the audio samples (provided by movingsoundtech.com) below. Then tell us what you think.

11 KHz - Should be audible 60 years old and under
12 KHz - Should be audible 55 years old and under
13 KHz - Should be audible 50 years old and under
14 KHz - Should be audible 45 years old and under
15 KHz - Should be audible 40 years old and under
16 KHz - Should be audible 35 years old and under
17 KHz - Should be audible 30 years old and under
18 KHz - Should be audible 25 years old and under


By Christopher Dean Hopkins  | August 31, 2010; 10:56 PM ET
Categories:  More on the story  
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Comments

Sounds like a television set.

Posted by: blasmaic | August 31, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm 52, and I could hear all of them. I have young ears! I might wish my face and body were equally youthful.

Posted by: Yoki | August 31, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

I could hear all of them no problem, and I'm no teenager. I'm glad I know not to shop places that use these now. I wasn't sure if I'd be bothered before, now I know I will be.

Posted by: Nymous | September 1, 2010 2:18 AM | Report abuse

The question isn't whether it succeeds in driving young people away. The question is whether driving young people away is morally legitimate.

These devices ought to be criminally prohibited. Meanwhile, WMATA should sue the company that installed one by a Metro entrance for interfering with Metro customers' use of Metro property.

Posted by: philautos | September 1, 2010 2:21 AM | Report abuse

These sounds keep roaches and rats away, so it should work great for teenagers too. I just hope it does not hurt dogs.

Posted by: matrox | September 1, 2010 2:39 AM | Report abuse


Two things:

1. At what volume level should these samples be listened to?

At 3/4 volume I could hear them all tho 13K sounded intermittent and scratchy. I'm 61. I found the samples overall pretty poor quality.

2. Just because you can't hear a sound doesn't mean its not affecting you in other ways...the sound energy is still there.

I think this technique of producing high energy sounds to drive away loitering teens is a form of acoustic pollution and should be illegal.

Posted by: cul2 | September 1, 2010 4:37 AM | Report abuse

The question isn't whether it succeeds in driving young people away. The question is whether driving young people away is morally legitimate.

These devices ought to be criminally prohibited. Meanwhile, WMATA should sue the company that installed one by a Metro entrance for interfering with Metro customers' use of Metro property.
--------------
Another person that doesn't think a business has a right to protect itself. Must be another liberal slug. Another reminder why it's not worth starting your own business. You have no rights as a business owner according to liberals and bleeding hearts.

Posted by: LiberalBasher | September 1, 2010 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Why not just play music by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, etc. at moderate volume? I would bet it would repel teenagers much more effectively, and entertain Metro's older patrons at the same time.

Posted by: jblatt | September 1, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

There's gotta be a better way to prevent loitering and mischief. I'm almost 40 and can hear all of the sounds clearly; they're quite irritating. They'd keep me from spending money at a place that uses the sounds. I like the idea of playing Sinatra, Bennett, etc. I'd stay, shop, and probably sing along. Hmmm...singing along would scare the kids away.

Posted by: taconista16 | September 1, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Something is not right. At 52, I could hear all of them quite well. I think something is wrong with your test.
Other than that, I think it is a great idea. I say use it everywhere, your home, schools, church, let's get these out of control teens in line.

Posted by: Woodie731 | September 1, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I am in my twenties, and get a headache from these sounds that are supposedly are confined to teens. I think the Gallery Place businesses will soon notice that the teens might be gone, but so are many of their customers, myself included. It will be interesting to see how well Gallery Place works as an over 40 hangout...

Posted by: ChrisinDC | September 1, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

They should also install one above the steps of the Portrait Gallery where they all hang out at night.

Posted by: bryman | September 1, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I'm 60 yrs and could hear down to the 50 yrs (yes, yes, I know, this is not an audiologist's lab.), but the sound was kind of annoying.

Posted by: sitspin | September 1, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Wow! I can hear them all and I'm 28. So I guess it may work because I'm not going down to Verizon Center now.

Posted by: auburnyellowrose | September 1, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

I am 71.. I hear the 13khz well... The 15khz faintly... And nothing above that...

As a method to reduce loitering by mobs of youngsters with nothing to do and excitement on their mind, I only wish I had thought of it...

dr. o

Posted by: ad4hk2004 | September 1, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

"Why not just play music by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, etc. at moderate volume? I would bet it would repel teenagers"

-------------------------

jblatt, surely you joke. I was just 17 when the Beatles sang "Well, she was just 17, if you know what I mean", and believe me, this music would repel me.

Posted by: dcc1968 | September 1, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

No, just play any Neil Diamond song that isn't "Sweet Caroline". Or anything by the Percy Faith Orchestra.

Posted by: joshlct | September 1, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

This is a cruel device. I clicked "No" not because it may not work, but because it is cruel and it opens yet another door to brainwashing the public. What a sick society this is becoming.

Are there no laws anymore about subliminal trickery? If this device is allowed, what's to stop other purposes of not-quite-heard sounds such as brainwashing -- for what purpose, guys? To make us go away, to make us docile, or to make us buy brand X? Once these devices are installed, who is going to tell us when the brainwashing messages start playing?


Posted by: rubyredshoes | September 1, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I have six decades of "life experience" and I could hear all tones. I experienced nausea while listening to the tones -- I have a history of migraines and take preventive medication for migraines. Are these establishments going to risk exacerbating the suffering of those of us with medical conditions triggered by sounds? This is dangerous to a subset of the population (that includes me!).

Posted by: kwbryson | September 1, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I'm 63 and I could hear all of them.
Just play anything by Josh Groban.

Posted by: bozhogg | September 1, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Freaked my children out big time. That'll keep me, my kids, and my money away. Mission accomplished!

Posted by: jb1151 | September 1, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

What a terrible thing to do. It may well drive away some of the kids but it's punishing anybody who can hear it, whether they are older people with good hearing or younger kids who are minding their own business and aren't making trouble. Meanwhile the kids who have already ruined their own hearing won't care about it, whether they are troublemakers or not.

Posted by: MrDarwin | September 1, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

So younger people can hear more, is that what this is saying? I couldn't hear the first one so maybe there's something to it. But jb1151 has a point, some of us old fogies have kids we have to tote around. Don't make our jobs harder.

Posted by: forgetthis | September 1, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

33 here and I can hear all of them. And they are annoying. Guess I won't shop near Gallery Place.

Posted by: HerndonBiker | September 1, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I suspect that most of what the older listeners are hearing (myself included) is a lower-pitched artifact of their sound systems. You really can't reliably replicate the result over the web and via the average sound card and sound system.

But more importantly, let's be candid about what this is really about: repelling young AFRICAN AMERICAN people. The kind about whom much has been written in recent months right here in WaPo, and at these specific locations. This may well be a harbinger of an entirely new science of keeping various groups in their place, as technologists figure out ways of differentiating various groups based on differences in sensory capacities, tastes, and sensitivities.

Posted by: JohnQCitizen | September 1, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Much easier fix would be to block or otherwise disable cellphone coverage within 50 ft of the metro entrance. Yes, in this country it's illegal, but that doesn't mean the laws can't change. They ought to do the same thing in theaters and other public places....

Posted by: blackbear336 | September 1, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

When the sound sample was played on the news last night, it clearly hurt my dog's ears until I could get to the mute button, so, no, it's not a good idea. I could not hear all of the samples, but I experienced nausea while each played. I agree with others, play some big band era or classical music. Maybe some of the teens will gain an appreciation for real music. At the least I'd want to spend more time and money there.

Posted by: eed017 | September 1, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I just can't wait to sue the h3ll out of the stores that cause permanent hearing loss.

Let's just keep pushing people around until they're extinct with this kind of nasty technology.

Posted by: seraphina2 | September 1, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I'm 24, and this thing drives me bonkers. And I'm not African American. So the idea that this is "targeting" a specific group of people is bunk.

What it will do is keep away those of us 21-25 who would be visiting bars down there.

Posted by: whitneyuevans | September 1, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Simply play classical music.

Posted by: rexreddy | September 1, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I think its a great idea. Im a early 30's black guy and I dont even want to go down to Gallery Place anymore due to all the rowdy teens. Something like this may make me want to go to the movies or have a meal down there now, maybe.

Posted by: jaytee22002 | September 1, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"What it will do is keep away those of us 21-25 who would be visiting bars down there."

Huh. No it won't. What it will do is prevent you and others from standing around, doing absolutely nothing but looking for trouble. I won't keep you from walking by to to go Rocket Bar or Fado. I will keep teens from looking for the next target to mug. That's the point of this. You are a paying customer heading to a bar. They are standing on a street corner looking tough until they can find a reason to fight someone.

That being said, DC should probably instead pass strict loitering laws, and have an absolute zero tolerance for threatening behavior.... and the classical music idea isn't half bad. Hard to look tough when Beethoven is piping through the speakers, they'll move on.

Posted by: JG55 | September 1, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm 27, going on 28. I can hear all of them very well...in fact, listening to the "under 25" sound, it was so painful to my ears that I gritted my teeth and frantically clicked on the mouse to turn the @*$*@$*$ thing off. Forget getting rid of *teens*, apparently this thing can get rid of anyone short of retirement age...

Posted by: Eleiana | September 1, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I'm 72, and listening to these sounds confirm what I already suspected--I have very good hearing. That's why I always complain at the gym that I can hear the recorded music above my iPod, but don't want to turn my iPod too high and ruin my hearing.

Posted by: Vallee | September 1, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

more passive aggressive bullsh|t from Big Brother types.

I thought conservatives wanted MORE people to shop and spend money for businesses, not FEWER.

But when these businesses go belly-up because people don't want to shop in the "beep beep beep" stores, they'll blame Obama or socialists or the NY mosque.

idiots.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | September 1, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Just play muzak, that would chase away the devil himself.

Posted by: darkglobe5 | September 1, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't hear anything above 15KHz. And I'm only 31! Guess I have "old ears."

Posted by: itsme1 | September 1, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I could hear all of them, and I am 47. I also have a hearing loss in one ear from otosclerosis (a hardening of the bones in the inner ear). Why not just play Barry Manilow or some form of muzak?

Posted by: lydandy | September 1, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm……. This could keep the Vampires and Werewolves away too.
That’s not good because they generally have loads of cash and enjoy art.

I hear werwolves are also fond of Beef Cho Mein.

Posted by: rexreddy | September 1, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

51: clearly heard all i was supposed to. Clearly did NOT hear any from "45" and younger.

Posted by: redrocket | September 1, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm 66 and I could hear all of them easily. But the descriptions of the samples are backwards. Only the loudest tones should be audible to us geezers, while the softest tones should only be audible to those under 25. The descriptions imply the opposite.

IMO what this article shows mostly is that the WPO needs more copy editors.

Posted by: andym108 | September 1, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

The kids that hang out there are so noisy they won't hear these sounds above their own skreetching

Posted by: emilymn | September 1, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Better this than firehoses and german shepherds

Posted by: weetabixjihad | September 1, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

32 years old, and I can hear every one of them.

Posted by: ericroks | September 1, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse


My teenage son uses a ring tone on his phone that is similar. I can't hear it when it sounds.

Posted by: edbyronadams | September 1, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm 36 and have mild hearing loss. I couldn't hear anything higher than the 14 kHz, and that one was harder to hear. Of course, my ears also sometimes just buzz on their own.

I would think the effects on us even if we couldn't hear it would be a concern, not to mention on other animals that might be able to hear it. What about guide dogs? Birds?

Posted by: patsy630 | September 1, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm retired, and I could hear all of them. So I guess that I cannot shop in any store that has this device.

Posted by: alamo2 | September 1, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

"Or anything by the Percy Faith Orchestra."

You blaspheme! "Theme from A Summer Place" is one of my most favorite pop pieces of all time.

"I just can't wait to sue the h3ll out of the stores that cause permanent hearing loss."

If you're fighting, pickpocketing, or loitering long enough that you lose your hearing instead of walking through, you're breaking the law anyway so you've nullified your case right there.

Posted by: NYC123 | September 1, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

matrox at 2:39a.m. has a point - what about service dogs - will this distract them from assisting their people. I'm 54 with some hearing loss, and could not hear the 17 & 18 KHz. My keen-eared husband probably would be able to hear them.

Posted by: mat00 | September 1, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I hear them all. In fact, one of the malls here installed one in the food court. I can no longer eat there, let alone order food to take anywhere else because it just *hurts*. If your businesses want to lose customers with sensitive hearing, go for it.

Posted by: ThatOneChick | September 1, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I hear them all. In fact, one of the malls here installed one in the food court. I can no longer eat there, let alone order food to take anywhere else because it just HURTS. If your businesses want to lose paying customers with sensitive hearing, go for it.

Posted by: ThatOneChick | September 1, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

LiberalBasher, It's a pity you are filled with such negativity. Please find a nice tall cliff and end your suffering for all of us.

Posted by: swatkins1 | September 1, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

How is this any different from hitting people with sticks?

Posted by: diveguy99 | September 1, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

These links are all wrong anyway, the 15 kHz link is lower in pitch than the 11 kHz.

Posted by: agalleg1 | September 1, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Glenn Miller - that will be more than enough to keep those young rapskallions away! Where's my prune juice?

Posted by: dcunitedfan3 | September 1, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

This would be a great idea if only loiterers could hear them. Why not enforce loitering laws with real human beings?

Posted by: BenFlynn | September 1, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

While perhaps well-intentioned, providing these test tones as a sort-of online hearing test doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

The audio systems of most PCs (particularly laptops) are not nearly good enough to faithfully reproduce sound at frequencies higher than about 14-16KHz or so.

Posted by: Auslander1 | September 1, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I am 64 and I can hear the sound for 50 and younger. Besides, with the ipod use, and how it affects hearing, the young generation will Not be able to hear Anything when they get older.

Posted by: pbnj | September 1, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that a good proportion of the youngsters they are trying to repel have already damaged their high-frequency audio perception by listening to personal in-ear audio devices, and can't perceive the higher frequencies intended to annoy them.

Posted by: MetroUser | September 1, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

People, even teen-age people, are not rodent pests to be driven away with sound.

Posted by: risandy | September 1, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I can't hear anything at and below "45 and under." For all apposed, what's your solution for the problem? I would support more police and cracking a few heads; that would do it.

Posted by: psuvo | September 1, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

If it's only used on the property of the business, then it's up to them. Volume (db) may be an issue if greater than 90 db.

If it's a public area, then the users of this system can be sued for assault and battery. More importantly, by deliberately introducing a irritant to an area, the businesses become responsible for any and all disruptive behavior of the people in that area.

Posted by: mhoust | September 1, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm 51 and I was able to hear all but the under 25 very clearly. It's highly annoying and if I were to be subject to that noise just because I'm waiting to meet up with a friend or window shopping, I'd be very inclined to take my business elsewhere.. completely. I suspect, however, that chances are that the group for which this is intended won't be able to hear the noise -- they're usually plugged into ipods, MP3 players, etc. AND playing them at full blast -- deadens the nerve endings in the ear that allow folks to hear. Try playing Barry Manilow or Engelbert Humperdinck or Frank Sinatra or anything pre-1970 instead.

Posted by: mages_kyria | September 1, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Play opera! Even better ... simulcast from Sidney Harden Hall on the Verizon Center jumbotron on the west wall instead of last week's Redskins game!

Isn't that screen technically illegal for broadcasting copyrighted material?

Posted by: bs2004 | September 1, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Am 63, could hear all tones. The kids can just (and will) put their ipod ear plugs in.
I'd rather see a cop posted there.

Posted by: postoastie | September 1, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh man! I'm 31 and couldn't hear a peep until I tried the 55 years or younger. Scary. Good news--I wouldn't be subjected to the annoying noise while around the Gallery Place metro. Bad news--I think I will be deaf by 40! ;)

Posted by: anna131 | September 1, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse


The listed tests are backwards. The one labelec 11,000 Hz is the highest when it should be the lowest.

Funny.

Posted by: edbyronadams | September 1, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm 69, and could hear them down to the 35 yr. level, but that one "just barely". If there were other noises in the area, I doubt I'd notice that one.

I have mixed feelings about the use of these sounds to keep teens away - especially since others ARE going to hear them. The method may backfire.

But I am sympathetic to the property owners if loitering teens (or any other age) are causing a problem.

Posted by: DESS1 | September 1, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

For all this nonsense, if you people could instead find something for the teens to do, now...Wow...what an idea, yeah sometimes they are silly and loud, act foolish, now do not sit here and tell me that you were not a teen at one time, and that you never ever did anything to annoy adults, cause then you would be a liar, I must be from outer space, but darn it these are our children of the future and that is how you want to treat them, well what good for the goose is good for well you know who, What are you gonna do when they do not want YOU around anymore, they can just throw you by the wayside, come on lets get real, these are our children and nieces and nephews...treat them good and i'll bet some cash they will treat you good to...I would NEVER go near any such place who condones this practice....From one Grandmother who loves her kiddies..

Posted by: janetmramos | September 1, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I heard every last one of those sounds...and I'm 38

Posted by: cbmuzik | September 1, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

If stores can repel me with Rod Stewart they should be allowed to play other electronic whines to keep youths away.

Posted by: polystyreneman | September 1, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Likes this idea best. Very future oriented thought.

Much easier fix would be to block or otherwise disable cellphone coverage within 50 ft of the metro entrance. Yes, in this country it's illegal, but that doesn't mean the laws can't change. They ought to do the same thing in theaters and other public places....

Posted by: blackbear336

Posted by: Elisa2 | September 1, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

The poll questions allow no option for those who believe on principle that it's wrong to harass the young in this way.
I voted no, but not because "it's not going to stop anything". The better it works, the less I like it.

Posted by: bourassa1 | September 1, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Blends right in with my tinnitis.

Go for it.

Posted by: Geezer4 | September 1, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

It's no for me, but that's because at 50 I can still hear bats. Gallery Place is my main metro stop on my commute (switch to X2 bus there), and my main area for shopping and eating. That noise will keep me away -- probably more than the teens.

Posted by: Fabrisse | September 1, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but this just seems foolish to me. Teenagers are flocking to a busy, dynamic area of the city so we need technology to drive them away?

I'd like a better idea of how many of them are actually causing any trouble. You mean to tell me they don't have this problem in New York or Atlanta? Are the malls and parks next? Have you ridden metro between 2:30 and 4:30? Are we going to install mosquitoes there, too? It seems like we adults are acting like cantankerous fogies about this whole thing.

Posted by: P-Funk2002 | September 1, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm for the "Peggy Lee solution". It is fundamentally humane and might actually brainwash a few musically astute youngsters.

When it's closing time at Gallery Place, play Barry Manilow and watch everyone head for the exits.

Posted by: wgmadden | September 1, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I have worked at the Smithsonian Gallery of Art/Portrait Gallery for the past 16 years. I love that area and can ride my bike down in 15 minutes! Business owners must make a living or they will close. How about some creative thinking? The Gallery is open until 7 pm,,, perhaps in summer, more tours could be set up for young people. The Verizon Center has lots of open space...perhaps some could be open to and for young people...say twice a month...dancing, lectures, music, etc.The MLK library is near and has lots of open space...Also, our Convention Center and old Carnegie Library are near. And, yes the Mall is near. Perhaps a summer tent where young people can enjoy different music events from area schools? Yes, who will pay for the adults/chaperones to keep an eye on the kids? Volunteers?

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | September 1, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Typical profit-obsessed mindset: if something stands in the way of your bottom line, just apply whatever quick fix works...for you. Don't give a cr@p about what might happen to anyone else passing by, or to anyone that some of the targeted people might care to bother or harm as they leave your property, appropriately annoyed.

Why not just zap them with tazers? How about enclosing those who hang out within a fenced-off area? Make that fence an electric one while you're at it. Motion-activated pellet guns? Strategically-timed smoke bombs? Arsenic in their Big Gulps? Why not?

Certainly the people who are hanging around would take the high road and refuse to retaliate, right?

I teach autistic preschoolers, some of whom are hypersensitive to sound--even sounds the rest of us cannot hear. I can assure you this sort of practice IS dangerous, cruel, and unethical.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | September 1, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Teenagers are already losing their hearing at an alarming rate. Your paper ran a story on it less than two weeks ago. See http://voices.washingtonpost.com/checkup/2010/08/teen_hearing_loss_on_the_rise.html

The "should be audible" chart will change as hearing loss at specific frequencies occurs and those frequencies drop out of the public's audible range. How close to tinnitus is your average teenager given the hearing loss they are already experiencing from tech devices? DC wants to find out, it seems. Then the city can have a significant number of law suits filed against it, claiming hearing loss from the "teenage repellent" devices.

Stop abusing the public with experimental technologies as though at-risk youth are dogs or pests to be swatted away, and as though the "should be audible" chart is a one-size-fits-all given. I read a comment above that a 40 year old posting saying she can hear the sounds and it is very annoying. Maybe it is hitting a frequency range she has already damaged, and is it doing even more damage, then, to that not-your-average ear of hers? If I were her, I would start documenting dates and times of entering that metro station...

Posted by: rubyredshoes | September 1, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Back in the day my friends and I would have been told in a respectful way to "move on" by the local beat cop. And if we didn't move quick enough, God help us!

Posted by: JAH3 | September 1, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Hard of hearing, early 20s here. Can't hear most of them (the first two, for senior citizens, I can hear--barely).

So, um, no, won't work on anyone like me. And a lot of teens now have worse hearing than their elders, because of earbuds. My hearing loss is natural, just a disability from birth. However, it means I've spent a lot of time in audiologist offices, and it's taught me a lot about how hearing works.

Teens will either drown out the noise or use insulated earbuds. Seniors who can hear the sound will be very irritated. And it won't work for very long, because the youngest generation will simply get used to it. Hearing adapts to situations very well, so if this sound is constant where a person wants to be, then the hearing will adapt to filter it out. This is the same phenomenon that makes you hear poorly after a concert.

Surely teenagers aren't all that scary. Do adults now lack the authority to confront a teenager who has overstepped a boundary?

Posted by: whiteflame128 | September 1, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

This sounds like much ado about nothing. It's not like the mall owner is spraying acid on people standing outside the doors. This is a simple, non-lethal MILDLY ANNOYING sound that goes away if you move away from the entrance doors. It seems to me that this is a great solution that peacefully moves the crowd away from this favored hang out spot.
And if I am reading the article correctly, the noise is inaudible as soon as you go inside. So the only people who will be annoyed are those who choose to remain within the sound radius and those who walk by for a few seconds.

Posted by: fezini | September 1, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm hoping the aforementioned shortcomings in laptop PCs' sound reproduction capabilities are true, since, at 47, the only one I could hear was the 11kHz tone.

Posted by: OttoDog | September 2, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

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