Steve Jobs just used the term “anechoic” in his iPhone speech. What does it mean?

Apple has been dealing with a technical fiasco around the release of the  iPhone 4. Today, CEO Steve Jobs held a press conference to address how the company is going to fix a number of bugs with the phone and compensate consumers for the glitches.

Jobs’ talk gave tech geeks and language enthusiasts a double, unexpected treat: a glimpse into a secret testing facility, and exposure to a great word: anechoic.

Anechoic is a simple combination of Greek roots, an- “not,” and echoic, “pertaining to an echo.” The term originates in electronics to describe anechoic chambers,  rooms designed to completely block sound or other electromagnetic waves. The blockage applies both to keeping sound out of the room and reducing the ability of sounds within the room to travel.

If you’ve ever noticed the oddly-shaped panels (acoustic tiles) on the walls and ceilings of restaurants or theaters, you get the idea of the types of materials used to create the anechoic environment. Jobs showed images of Apple’s state-of-the-art chamber that looked like something from outer space.  Here’s the quote from Job’s speech: “You have to build these rooms or you don’t get accurate results. This is a state of the art facility. We’ve invested over $100 million on this. We have 17 anechoic chambers.”

Basically, Apple uses these massive rooms to test reception and potential interference from other electronic transmissions.

Enjoy this rare lexical specimen and may your signals always be stronger than the noise.

Click here to learn what the “I” in iPhone stands for.


States News Service April 8, 2011 Chicago — The following information was released by the Voice of America (VOA):

Kane Farabaugh A shutdown of the Federal government could leave hundreds of thousands of government employees without a paycheck. That shutdown could also have a ripple effect, impacting local communities throughout the United States and beyond. The shutdown could even impact one important Midwest waterway.

The Illinois River, which winds through the heart of the Midwest state of Illinois, is an important waterway for agriculture. see here government shutdown military pay

Kevin Eubank is a Park Ranger for the Army Corps of Engineers Illinois Waterway project. The Army Corps of Engineers has oversight for the lock and dam system along the Illinois River.

“The Illinois is a commercial navigation River,” said Eubank. “Its main purpose is to allow towboats, cargo carrying things to go up and down to deliver the corn, coal, soybeans, and other raw materials that industry needs to keep operating.” It is not uncommon to see traffic disruptions on the river. Forces of nature, such as flooding and drought, have closed the lock and dam system before. But seldom has the closure resulted from a political dispute, and Eubank is unsure what a government shutdown would mean for the Army Corps of Engineers and the Illinois River.

“We have not seen the official recommendation yet on how the navigation part of the Corps is going to deal with a potential shutdown,” said Eubank. “So we really don’t know.” Eubank says any decision to close the lock and dam system would have far reaching effects beyond Illinois.

“If the decision comes down that the locks should be shut down, then of course no boats will go through,” noted Eubank. “Then the industries that depend on the river for their materials would be faced with having to find another way to get it there. Having to move cargo by truck usually costs close to three times as much as moving it by barge, so there could be a drastic impact on prices people pay as well.” GrainAnalyst.com’s Matthew Pierce is watching those prices closely, at a time when food supplies around the globe are low, and prices for commodities that travel the river, such as corn and soybeans, are high.

“Third world countries are going to be affected most of all [by higher prices], with India and China the biggest problems on hand right now,” explained Pierce. “In the last two weeks, we’ve seen China buy over 2.5 million tons of corn, and this is the largest import program they’ve had in over seven years. So the countries themselves are making moves to curb food inflation that they have domestically, but the situation I believe is that right now consumption worldwide outpaces production.” Pierce says in addition to supply and demand concerns for commodities, the biofuels industry would take the biggest hit by a government shutdown.

“The biggest impact is going to be on the ethanol industry,” Pierce added. “The subsidies that come from the U.S. government float the ethanol industry right now, and without that they are going to be running negative margins which could impact corn demand.” Back at the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center, Carol and Robert Walker watch the wildlife, as a commercial barge makes its way through the Starved Rock Lock and Dam. website government shutdown military pay

If a shutdown occurs, the visitors center would close, preventing people like the Walker family and thousands more from visiting the site.

“I think it’s too bad,” said Carol Walker. “I think it’s very, very sad that places like this and historic sites and parks are going to have to close down for a while. It seems likes families would be big losers closing down sites like this and parks and historic sites. Who’s going to operate the dam and the locks?” The biggest impact of a government shutdown hits close to home with people like Ranger Kevin Eubank. As an employee of the Army Corps of Engineers, he is a federal employee, and his future is uncertain.

“Our staff of three permanent park rangers here and one in Peoria would be left at home,” said Eubank. “We’re told that we have to post closure notices on the visitors center here.” Eubank says during the last government shutdown in 1995 and 1996, there was little impact to the daily operations along the river, and everyone got paid. But the lack of a current agreement on a budget between lawmakers has created uncertainty, about how the latest shutdown will impact commerce along the Illinois River, and the rest of the country.


  1. divedi -  July 22, 2010 - 9:12 am

    it was very interesting to read.
    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

  2. Harold -  July 20, 2010 - 10:41 am

    Isn’t sounds just vibrations? different vibrations make different sounds :] just like a speaker works, so that rooms is made to make sure no “Outside” vibrations can get inside.

  3. Ray Butler -  July 19, 2010 - 4:28 am

    “…block sound or other electromagnetic waves”

    As has been noted above, sound is not an EM wave. But it’s a fun idea to explore the physics of “But what if it were?”. Many of the aural phenomena we are used to would be utterly different, because of the speed differences (sound waves move at a leisurely 340 metres per second or so; all EM waves move at “light speed” which is 300 *million* metres per second). So if sound really was EM, we could never distinguish echoes – the signal would return much too fast. It would be harder to tell the directionality of a sound (as well as using the loudness difference, our brain also uses the minute phase delay between the times it reaches our two ears to tell where it came from – that would be also be much too fast). Thunder would be heard at exactly the same instant as the lightning flash is seen – so no more counting the seconds between flash and boom to work out how far away the storm is! There would be no “sound barrier” for jet planes, and no “sonic booms” when they pass it. The Doppler change in pitch, normally heard when a vehicle passes with its sirens blaring, would be imperceptible, because the velocity of the vehicle would be negligible compared to the speed of light. And so on. It would be a world of very different experiences.

  4. Greg Gehr -  July 17, 2010 - 8:20 am

    Your definition of “anechoic” is decent, but your characterization of what Jobs and Apple said has little basis in reality. At what point did Jobs say there were iPhone 4 “glitches” for which Apple would be providing compensation? In fact, I think he spent virtually the entire time making exactly the opposite point.

  5. estival -  July 17, 2010 - 5:41 am

    Is there any site that compares functions of latest wireless reading
    divices in the market?

    a vampire, care of self, there would be a way out. If materialization of
    bloodsucking is prevented, then some glitches must have had happened.
    I have not tried that tropical fruit although I had a chance years ago.

  6. Murray Mcleod -  July 17, 2010 - 5:41 am

    Not really a fiasco is it?

  7. HT -  July 17, 2010 - 2:35 am

    “Now I just have to find a way to slip it into casual speech!”

    You do that, people will find out where you picked up the word (from an Apple related news article.) You’d be labeled a fangirl for good. Then wherever you go on the internet, you have to make sure there isn’t any Windows users or discussion of computers, or there would be no end to your persecution.

  8. Arlene -  July 17, 2010 - 1:55 am

    We sonographers have been using the word “anechoic” for years.

  9. Marton -  July 17, 2010 - 1:06 am

    Well technology will always give us new and interesting words…. no mystery there. And Steve Jobs will do his absolute best to get people talking about him and his product. So I wish, sometimes, that the news media would become anechoic in response to the constant stream of PR (standing for two other letters) coming from the techno-industry. These guys should be paying for advertising… :-)

  10. $ -  July 16, 2010 - 10:39 pm

    Mr. Jobs was conducting a symphony inside his anechoic chamber.

  11. JM -  July 16, 2010 - 10:06 pm

    the word wouldn’t stick in my head before, but the moment you explained the root of the word (an- “not,” and echoic, “pertaining to an echo.”), I can remember it easily. Glad you did that. Thanks.

  12. wILLIam -  July 16, 2010 - 9:41 pm


    you love your kids or dictionary.com?

  13. sun -  July 16, 2010 - 3:58 pm

    what is dict dot com tryin to do; involve pop culture

  14. maureen -  July 16, 2010 - 3:16 pm

    Bill, you can assume such but one might also venture to guess that “other” means extraneous electromagnetic waves that may interfere with the experiential testing process. That would be my understanding.

  15. ANECHOIC | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  July 16, 2010 - 3:07 pm

    [...] a bit and learn something that may be new to you — Please come with us to our Chamber for an “ANECHOIC” point of view. –>>Rupert [...]

  16. Bill -  July 16, 2010 - 1:59 pm

    “…designed to completely block sound or other electromagnetic waves…”

    That implies that sound is an electromagnetic wave. It isn’t.

  17. Rob Poole -  July 16, 2010 - 1:58 pm

    Just one nit to pick: Sound is not a form of electromagnetic radiation; it is a compression wave transmitted through a physical medium, such as air or solid matter. While an anechoic chamber does prevent sounds from echoing inside the chamber, and is supposed to prevent external sounds from entering the chamber, it does not necessarily block the passage of electromagnetic radiation (e.g., radio waves or light waves). In order to block electromagnetic waves, you need to construct the room within a Faraday cage. Maybe Apple’s anechoic chambers are in fact constructed this way, but that’s not a generally true statement of all anechoic chambers.

  18. jacobian -  July 16, 2010 - 1:13 pm

    very informative.I make sure to always remember that new word though.

  19. iluvmykids -  July 16, 2010 - 1:07 pm

    I luv dictionary.com. This is an awesome website.

  20. Sasha Muradali -  July 16, 2010 - 12:57 pm

    haha, this is a great post — thanks for sharing and teaching me a new word.

    Now I just have to find a way to slip it into casual speech!


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