Two tiny wires in a device about the size of a matchstick detect how individual particles of air are affected by sound waves. The mechanism in a simple device developed by Microflown Technologies, an acoustics company in the Netherlands, can pick up sounds nearly 25 miles away -- a feat that gives it applications in warfare and surveillance. "I was flabbergasted when I first saw this system," said Col. Harold Jacobs of the Royal Netherlands Army. "I was really surprised about the simplicity, the amazing accuracy, the size and all the possibilities."

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