Is this technology possible?
June 12, 2014 7:35 PM   Subscribe

Once again while driving tonight I did not hear an ambulance's siren. This happens to me all the time, and it's not related to being on the phone or listening to music. It would be great if there were a way to transmit some type of signal that could be heard in cars within so many yards of an emergency vehicle. I'm not sure how this could work, or if it is possible. I imagine the ambulance would deliver some signal that could be picked up in a car outfitted with a sensor. What do you think?
posted by bluespark25 to Technology (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I suppose it's possible in several ways, in Minneapolis we have lights on the signal light posts that blink when emergency vehicles approach an intersection, but most people hear the 120dB siren from a few blocks away.
posted by sanka at 7:43 PM on June 12, 2014

Yes, and take advantage of existing car electronics. Add a warning condition when emergency vehicle is within 500 feet or increments. Flash interior lights at a certain pattern and emergency vehicle emits a certain radio frequency to activate it. It could play an audio message. Or maybe emergency vehicles could activate emergency broadcast system inside vehicle within range.

Something could be added to all new cars, some perfect device, maybe Wifi, then after 7 years nearly all vehicles have it as standard equipment. Wifi might be perfect technology to do all kinds of things like this. We'll all have onboard computers soon.
posted by nogero at 8:13 PM on June 12, 2014

You might try a wide-angle rear view mirror?

(Doesn't answer the question you were asking, but ...)
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:18 PM on June 12, 2014

Yes, it is called a siren detector and is widely available for deaf drivers.

The streetlights actually use a pulsed infrared system called Opticom and I guess one could invent a device that used that too, but it is possible for vehicles to have sirens on but Opticom off (for example if the fire truck is parked next to a signal and doesn't want it to change) so I'm not sure that would be useful.
posted by miyabo at 8:30 PM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

It already exists and is built into several models of radar detectors, such as this one.
posted by dcjd at 8:40 PM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was driving a car in France three years ago that did this. Over the radio, a recorded voice broke in and said "ralentissez, s'il vous plait". I looked in the rear view, and there was an ambulance approaching.

This was in a rented VW Passat.
posted by gimonca at 9:12 PM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Look up the Rumbler siren. It's an "infrasonic" sound that is so low that it carries far and in a way that penetrates most noise-quieting cars. It's extremely effective at getting your attention, and it's coupled with a regular siren (which is helpful for directionality, etc.)

Naturally, any videos you find won't give you the full effect: part of it is the special nature of the speakers it uses, but they're a reasonable facsimile of what they sound like, and they're growing more widespread.
posted by disillusioned at 2:01 AM on June 13, 2014

Interesting to know that the technology is already in use in some devices, like the radar detectors listed by dcjd or the car rented by gimonca. I figured I couldn't be the only one who would benefit from this. Thanks all!
posted by bluespark25 at 5:56 AM on June 13, 2014

Once again while driving tonight I did not hear an ambulance's siren. This happens to me all the time...

Please forgive me if this is inappropriate: have you had your hearing checked recently? I live in a 12th floor apartment, yet sirens drown out talk, phone calls and TV. You should hear sirens in your car.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:43 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Are you sure the siren was going? In my area, ambulances don't always use them unless they're approaching an intersection or they're moving so fast that people need the extra warning. They often run with just flashing lights.
posted by current resident at 12:10 PM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Regret and home renovations: is it worth it?   |   Best physotherapists in Toronto? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.