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How to Tell a Cell Phone Lie

Ever want to pretend you're stuck in traffic as an excuse for breaking a date? Now there's software for your cell phone that can generate a fake background noise, so when you call to cancel, you'll be believed.

Will Knight writes in New Scientist that SoundCover can also mimic a thunderstorm, a dentist's drill or even a circus, so you don't have to use the same excuse every time. You can even assign background noises to specific callers, so if the excuse works once, you can use it again (and again). An especially popular sound is another phone ringing, so you can pretend you have to answer your landline.

The software blends the outgoing voice with a looped audio track, so it sounds genuine. "To the person on the other end it sounds like a genuine background," says Simeda's CEO Liviu Tofan. "We think some people will use it for fun and some people to make good excuses."

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