A Bat-Inspired 'Ear' Detects Sound Locations

Researchers at Virginia Tech created a technology that works like a bat's ear to determine the location of a sound’s origin. The team, led by Prof. Rolf Mueller, built a soft synthetic ear resembling the horseshoe and Old-World leaf-nosed bats. Mueller and his colleagues attached the "ear" to a string and a simple motor, timed to make the ear flutter at the same time it received an incoming sound. “The capabilities are completely beyond what is currently in the reach of technology, and yet all this is achieved with much less effort,” said Mueller .

The above video shows the team placing the ear above a microphone, creating a mechanism similar to that of a bat.