TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: A Ring Tone Meant to Fall on Deaf Ears

A Ring Tone Meant to Fall on Deaf Ears

Monty Solomon (
Wed, 14 Jun 2006 22:47:16 -0400

The New York Times
June 12, 2006

In that old battle of the wills between young people and their
keepers, the young have found a new weapon that could change the
balance of power on the cellphone front: a ring tone that many adults
cannot hear.

In settings where cellphone use is forbidden -- in class, for example --
it is perfect for signaling the arrival of a text message without
being detected by an elder of the species.

"When I heard about it I didn't believe it at first," said Donna
Lewis, a technology teacher at the Trinity School in Manhattan. "But
one of the kids gave me a copy, and I sent it to a colleague. She
played it for her first graders. All of them could hear it, and
neither she nor I could."

The technology, which relies on the fact that most adults gradually
lose the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, was developed in Britain
but has only recently spread to America - by Internet, of course.

Recently, in classes at Trinity and elsewhere, some students have
begun testing the boundaries of their new technology. One place was
Michelle Musorofiti's freshman honors math class at Roslyn High
School on Long Island.

At Roslyn, as at most schools, cellphones must be turned off during
class. But one morning last week, a high-pitched ring tone went off
that set teeth on edge for anyone who could hear it. To the students'
surprise, that group included their teacher.

"Whose cellphone is that?" Miss Musorofiti demanded, demonstrating
that at 28, her ears had not lost their sensitivity to strangely
annoying, high-pitched, though virtually inaudible tones.

"You can hear that?" one of them asked.

"Adults are not supposed to be able to hear that," said another,
according to the teacher's account.

She had indeed heard that, Miss Musorofiti said, adding, "Now turn it

The cellphone ring tone that she heard was the offshoot of an
invention called the Mosquito, developed last year by a Welsh security
company to annoy teenagers and gratify adults, not the other way

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