"We picked different places -- a men's bathroom, the old gym, a walk-in closet -- and it turns out that people are terrific at it," Rosenblum said.In another experiment, Rosenblum and his team showed 18 UC Riverside undergraduates three shapes they would be attempting to identify -- a triangle, a disc and a square cut from sound-insulating foam board covered with black tape.
The undergrads also saw an array of eight horn-style loudspeakers that the shapes would block, and were told that the speakers would make a white-noise sound. Blindfolded, they were asked to identify which shape was positioned in front of the loudspeakers.
"Our results show that listeners can identify the shape of sound-occluding objects at better than chance levels, with some listeners displaying near-perfect performance," Rosenblum said.
That research, he said, seeks a better understanding of how human hearing is affected by silent objects. His projects are all motivated by theoretical questions rather than a quest for a particular application, Rosenblum said, but real-world considerations are important.
"We discuss practical applications in papers so engineers can use them in the work they do, whether it's designing computer software or rehabilitation programs for the blind or the deaf."
Rosenblum has taught at UCR since 1989. In addition to his scientific work, he holds the post of chair in teaching excellence for the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. His duties include offering workshops for faculty members, mentoring at least two assistant professors each year and providing teaching consultation.