The premiere of Made in Jersey on September 28th, a new Drama TV series on CBS featured ultrasonic mosquito tones. The new show is a hit, having had an estimated 7,740,000 viewers for it’s pilot episode. The sister of the main star, Martina Garretti played by Janet Montgomery, hears a mosquito tone in a voicemail left for Martina. The mosquito tone becomes an important part of the show ….we don’t want to reveal any spoilers….
The mosquito tone is simply a high pitched tone, usually above 17khz. It became popular in the mid-2000′s thanks to Howard Stapleton, and his company Compound Security. Howard invented “The Mosquito”, an anti-loitering device aimed at teens. It works because of a condition that affects more than 90% of the population called presbycusis which is basically age related hearing loss. It usually starts very subtly in a persons 20s and causes the diminishing ability to hear high frequency sounds like the mosquito tone.
Here is the CBS official trailer of the show:
Here is a clip of the scene with the Made in Jersey Mosquito Tone. The Mosquito Tone starts playing at about 3:00 in.
We wanted to reach out and hear your stories about how you are using the mosquito ringtone. Is anyone out there using it? Is it an actual ringtone on your phone? Do you have one of the mobile apps? Do you use it? Do you have any ideas on other ways that these high pitched frequencies can be used? What were the reactions to the people you showed it to?
Please leave your stories and comments below:
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The mosquito ringtone, which is a ringtone geared toward especially high frequencies that only young people can hear is really catching on in schools, clubs, or other places where children and teens want to use cell phones surreptitiously. This type of ringtone is also called the “adult proof ringtone” and with good reason.
The range of human hearing starts to fade for most of us around age 20, while teens retain the ability to hear the highest pitch of sound in the normal human range. What this means is that most teens can hear sounds that 90% of adults simply can’t hear at all. Even if adults can perceive the sound, it generally registers as a slight pressure in the head, or as a soft popping noise. Turning this sound into a ringtone means that children and teens can hear phone calls and incoming text messages, without a teacher or parent being aware.
“So what not just put the phone on vibrate?” Some ask, after learning about mosquito ringtones. After all, it seems sort of complicated to assign a non-audible ringtone, when a vibrate function would be just as good. Teens know the answer to this. When vibrate is turned onto a phone, it’s still audible – especially if it has something to vibrate against, like a desk or a book. The beauty of the mosquito ringtone is that it doesn’t vibrate, and can’t be heard at all by anyone who is significantly older.
Still there’s a lot of skepticism about how well these ringtones really work. If a kid can hear it, what about a parent with exceptional hearing?
The truth is that up to 90% of adults can’t hear sounds between 18-20 khz, while up to 70% of those younger than the age of 17 can. This means that there are very good odds of ensuring that a mosquito ringtone audible to a teen won’t be heard by an adult. Of course, there will always be some rare exceptions, but there’s a good chance that someone using a mosquito ringtone will be able to use it in secret.
The beauty of a ringtone that adults can hear is also that they are not expecting it. When adults can hear a high pitched frequency, they often assume it’s due to fluorescent lighting, or to an old TV or computer monitor. These kinds of monitors did once emit high pitched noises, before largely being phased out in favor of flat panel LCDs. This means that even if an adult can hear a mosquito ringtone, they will have a very hard time determining its origin, or knowing that it’s coming from a cellular phone. This gives children and teens a huge advantage.
So do mosquito ringtones work? They absolutely do. Still, it’s a good idea to test out a range of pitches and frequencies to ensure that the tones you can hear are really inaudible to the older people around you.