Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

One of the quietest places on Earth: Soundproof room for acoustic research

Date:
October 16, 2013
Source:
Binghamton University, State University of New York
Summary:
Silence isn’t just golden, it’s an absolute necessity for one professor. His current work involves building a better hearing aid, and for that he needs an extraordinarily quiet room.

Binghamton University Distinguished Professor Ron Miles poses inside the University's new anechoic chamber.
Credit: Jonathan Cohen, Binghamton University Photographer

Silence isn't just golden, it's an absolute necessity for Binghamton University Professor Ron Miles. Miles, a distinguished professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean of the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is an expert in acoustics. His current work involves building a better hearing aid, and for that he needs an extraordinarily quiet room.

The University's new anechoic chamber (a room without echo) is the ideal place for him to test his tiny microphones. It is built in such a way that it is both sound proof and sound waves cannot bounce off anything within it. In fact, Miles says, "If you got locked in, you could scream and no one would ever hear you!" That makes it a perfect environment in which to test how sound radiates from its source and moves around objects or bodies.

Miles' background in noise control began at Boeing, where his job was to stop the roar of the engines from entering the aircraft. Today his focus is on creating an audio aid that helps an individual with hearing issues distinguish speech from background noise.

"It's the cocktail party effect," Miles says. "You're struggling to understand the person in front of you through the mass of competing voices and sounds. Everyone has this problem, but it's maddeningly frustrating if your ears aren't working well."

Miles has invented a tiny microphone that can filter unwanted sounds. The device is so sensitive that regular labs are too noisy for testing. Now Miles can test his microphone in a brand new, state-of-the-art underground lab.

To keep the anechoic chamber free from outside sounds and vibrations, it is encased in multiple layers of drywall, thick insulation and a lot of concrete. It also "floats" on springs, to keep it physically separate from the building it's in. He must navigate four sets of doors before even entering the chamber. Inside, every surface is covered with hundreds of fiberglass wedges, which absorb sound. A wire-mesh floor over the wedges allows Miles and others to access the chamber to conduct tests.

While it sounds like a dream come true for anyone seeking a quiet and peaceful place, Miles says it can be a little unnerving. "It's not a place you would want to hang out. All of a sudden you're in an environment where there is no reflection of sound, and your usual perception is gone. It can be creepy."

But for microphone research it is ideal. Miles' research is a new approach to designing and fabricating the tiny directional microphone that is key to improving conversation for the hearing impaired. The hearing aid technology he is working on, however, still needs additional development. It is believed this chamber will allow Miles and his fellow researchers the ability to more easily detect where sounds are coming from and identify their source. With that information, he and his team can design a device to help those with hearing issues communicate without so many noisy distractions.

"There's still not anything man-made that can compete with our ears when they're working well," says Miles.

Not yet anyway.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Binghamton University, State University of New York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Binghamton University, State University of New York. "One of the quietest places on Earth: Soundproof room for acoustic research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131016122004.htm>.
Binghamton University, State University of New York. (2013, October 16). One of the quietest places on Earth: Soundproof room for acoustic research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131016122004.htm
Binghamton University, State University of New York. "One of the quietest places on Earth: Soundproof room for acoustic research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131016122004.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) Commercial aircraft deliveries rose seven percent at Boeing, prompting the aerospace company to boost full-year profit guidance- though quarterly revenues missed analyst estimates. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Car Market on the Rebound?

Europe's Car Market on the Rebound?

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) Daimler kicks off a round of second-quarter earnings results from Europe's top carmakers with a healthy set of numbers - prompting hopes that stronger sales in Europe will counter weakness in emerging markets. Hayley Platt reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

Reuters - US Online Video (July 22, 2014) Ten years after releasing its initial report, members of the 9/11 Commission warn of the "waning sense of urgency" in combating terrorists attacks. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins