Archive for the ‘Products’ Category

See the unseen

To promote their new vibration analyzer, measurement instrumentation company Fluke commissioned some amazing high-speed video of—you guessed it—things vibrating!  Putting the fascinating physics of vibrating plates and cylinders aside, you will have to admit that it’s interesting how a cymbal deforms at 1,000 frames per second.  (And if that doesn’t do it for you, the shaking basset hound at the end is pretty nice too!)

compostable quiet

Maybe you heard about this maybe you didn’t…or maybe you heard someone next to you eating SunChips out of the old compostable but VERY NOISY bag last summer. Well, Frito Lay just recently reduced the noise that the compostable bags make.  They found that by using a more rubbery adhesive to put the bag together, the noise level dropped from around 80 to 85 decibels to around 70 decibels.  Subjectively, a 10 decibel drop is about half as loud.  So maybe now you can sneak a snack at midnight without waking up your neighbors and then bury the evidence in your compost pile.  Happy Earth Day!

AP Article

Putting the rev back in your engine

A great deal of engineering effort has gone into quieting the automobile over the past century.  In most major cities, transportation noise is a huge contributor to environmental noise both outdoors and in (who doesn’t live near a road?)  Vehicle acoustics is a primary focus of many current applied acoustics research programs, with the enthusiastic support of the auto industry.

Even so, some would argue that these great successes in reducing vehicle noise have come at the expense of exhilaration; gunning your engine at a stop light just doesn’t give the thrill that it did in the days of the big block V8.

SoundRacer in actionFor those of us that would occasionally like to hear what we’re driving (which yes, sometimes includes even noise-averse acousticians), a Swedish company has developed the SoundRacer.  This gizmo fits into your cigarette lighter socket, and using the socket voltage to sense engine RPM, broadcasts real-time sports car engine sound through your car stereo.  Even if your “sports car” happens to be less than sporting!

just in time for Superbowl Sunday…

Squareheard Technology has a new microphone system, AudioScope, that allows broadcasters to zoom in on sounds as well as sights, to pick out a single conversation. The device is made up of around 300 microphones used in conjunction with a wide-angle camera that can zoom in to any position.  The AudioScope software then calculates the time it would take for sound emanating from that point to reach each microphone, and digitally corrects each audio feed to synchronize them with that spot.


meet elvin…he’s an electric vehicle with interactive noise

(Although we haven’t checked under his hood, we think elvin is a boy)

At one time or another, you have probably been crossing the street or walking through a parking lot and out of nowhere comes a car.  What’s different is that it didn’t come roaring at you but rather it snuck up on you, sidled right on up next to you without you noticing.  Then you realize it’s a hybrid or maybe even a fully electric Mini E or a Tesla (not likely but possible).  This is where elvin comes in…

Engineers at the University of Warwick created elvin to experiment with sounds for electric vehicles.  On the one hand, since hybrid/electric cars are quiet at low speeds, as they become more popular there could be a significant reduction in environmental traffic noise levels.  On the other hand, sound from vehicles can alert pedestrians or cyclists of oncoming traffic.  Also, the sound a particular car makes or doesn’t make also adds to the branding and buyer’s perception of a vehicle.

elvin would like your opinion on how he sounds and has an online interactive evaluation.  Check him out.

elvin electric vehicle with interactive noise

Clouds, heard and felt

Most people are familiar with the typical fabric-wrapped wall panels and acoustical ceiling tiles that absorb sound and echo in office environments—and may also be familiar with the reverberant, unintelligible character of a room without these absorptive treatments.  However, the same absorption can always be provided in less traditional forms, delivering world-class design that just happens to have acoustic benefit as well.

In search of this sort of innovation on a recent visit to Copenhagen, we stopped by the Dansk Design Center, a museum and gallery showcasing the best in Danish industrial, product, and graphic design.  On display among the winners of the 2010/11 Danish Design Prize was a product called Clouds, produced by Kvadrat A/S and designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.  The product is a modular system of 2-D felt panels that are joined with rubber bands at the edges to form complex, striking 3-D surfaces and volumes.  The resulting felt sculptures can be fixed to walls, hung from ceilings, or form room dividers on their own.

Felt "Clouds", by Kvadrat A/S and Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec

Acoustically, felt is an effective absorber of high-frequency sound, and by trapping substantial air spaces within or behind the overall surface, low- and mid-frequency absorption is possible as well.  Products like this allow the acoustic treatment to form an attractive centerpiece to a space’s visual aesthetic, rather than blending into the background!