To reduce any disturbance caused by loud music played by older residents who congregate outdoors to dance, researchers at Shanghai's Fudan University have developed a speaker system that can reportedly target sound to a specific area and not be audible elsewhere.
The invention may be the compromise that will satisfy both the dancers - usually middle-aged pensioners and the elderly who play music for their group dance in public spaces - and the residents who are disturbed by the noise from the activity, which usually takes place in the early morning or evening.
Tensions between those who take part in outdoor dancing and residents who object to the music that accompanies the activity have intensified in recent months. Some residents have taken to sending "attack dogs" to intimidate the dancers or they douse them with water.
Researchers at Fudan University are developing a "directional loudspeaker" as a solution, the Beijing Youth Daily reports.
Professor Ma Jianmin, from the university's department of engineering science and mechanics, said the speaker "effectively contain[s] sound waves in a certain area".
Ma said the device could also be used in other public spaces, like bus stations or airport waiting areas, or to broadcast messages to a specific group of people without creating extra noise.
The Youth Daily said the speaker system cost several hundred to a few thousand yuan, but made no mention of when it would be commercially available.
Experts have said the problem of loud public dancing was a product of the mainland's rapid urbanisation.
Last month, in Wenzhou city, a residential committee spent 260,000 yuan (HK$320,000) on a "treble cannon" that emitted a loud, unbearable noise to disrupt dances.
Last August, a man in Beijing sent his three Tibetan mastiffs to scare away dancers near his home. Last April, people threw water at the dancers in a residential compound in Chengdu , Sichuan province.
Experts have called on the government to pass stricter regulations on the use of public spaces. Guangzhou has introduced park regulations that limit sound levels, times, and zones for public dancing.