An invention to silence reggaeton with artificial intelligence

Reggaeton Be Gone, a machine invented by Argentine citizen Roni Bandini, blocks Bluetooth speakers whenever they play songs from one of the most popular music genres in the world

Reggaeton Be Gone
The machine, called Reggaeton Be Gone, interferes with Bluetooth signals from speakers that are playing the popular genre.Roni Bandini
Verónica M. Garrido

Roni Bandini once woke up every day to reggaeton songs that his neighbor blasted at full volume. Until, finally, he couldn’t take it anymore.

He didn’t knock on his neighbor’s door and ask for the volume to be turned down. Instead, he developed an autonomous machine “to take care of the situation.” The Argentine musician and programmer manufactured a device that works with artificial intelligence (AI) to detect reggaeton and interfere with Bluetooth speakers that emit the genre, until the music stops. It’s called Reggaeton Be Gone, inspired by the old TV-B-Gone — a device that was used 20 years ago to turn off annoying speakers and televisions in bars and restaurants.

Since making his invention public on social media, Bandini has been compared to Messi and Maradona in Argentina. For many people, he’s now “a hero” and “deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize.”

The first step to create a machine capable of jamming the reggaeton signal is to train an AI system to recognize the genre. Then, by using a Linux computer, Bandini scans the Bluetooth signals, to determine which may belong to the speakers emitting the noise. “From this point [onwards], the machine takes charge,” he notes.

Reggaeton Be Gone recognizes thousands of songs. Once it identifies any one of them, it generates signal interferences and counterattacks the speakers, by sending several connection requests in order to cause a disconnection, or to at least deteriorate the sound quality. “For the machine to work, the volume of the neighbor’s reggaeton has to be high enough,” he clarifies.

Although some consider him to be a hero, the doubts that this program generates from an ethical and regulatory point of view are evident. In Spain, for instance, it’s been illegal to possess or use any frequency jammer since June 2022.

A “jammer” is classified as a device designed to interfere with wireless communications signals, such as Wi-Fi, GPS, or Bluetooth networks. They work by emitting radio signals at frequencies similar to those used by the targeted devices, so as to cause interference and disruption. This makes it impossible — or at least difficult — for the targeted devices to receive or transmit signals.

The use of these devices is prohibited in many countries, as they may be utilized for undesirable means. It’s common, for example, among criminals who attempt to disable alarm systems. In this regard, the programmer explains that his machine is different, since it doesn’t block the frequencies: rather, it simply floods the speakers with requests.

“Before you say anything, I totally understand that interfering with a neighbor’s speakers could be illegal. But, on the other hand,” he defends himself, “listening to reggaeton every day at 9 a.m. should definitely be illegal.”

The system is controversial, but Bandini says that the reception has been “surprisingly affectionate and quite funny.” He doesn’t remember receiving major criticism from reggaeton fans, “but it’s also possible that they were lost in an avalanche of messages due to [jamming],” he chuckles. He has even received many custom orders to block other musical styles. “To name a few: vallenato, Córdoba quartet and cumbia,” he says.

Despite the success of the invention, he explains that he has no long-term plans in the industry. “I’m simply flattered by the attention and happy for my small contribution to the interest in maker culture (learning through doing),” he details. The publication of his invention on X already has five million views.

After his program went viral, the Argentine posted the tutorial, demo and code online. He will also be offering workshops and conferences on the matter. “I downloaded songs representative of the style, converted them to mono, lowered the resolution to 16khz, did a four-second split, used an MFE processing block and a classification algorithm. Finally, I exported the trained model with an .eim extension for Linux, under an ARM processor,” the inventor explains, in one of his tech-heavy video tutorials.

To shape the device, he uses a Raspberry Pi 3 and a 128x32 Oled screen. Other Bandini inventions include Rayuelomatic, a machine designed to read Hopscotch, a notoriously difficult experimental novel by Julio Cortázar; a Furby doll reprogrammed to recite phrases by Jorge Luis Borges, whom he called “Borgy”; Klausner Machine, a device capable of “listening” to plants, as well as several others published on his blog.

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