Controversy with replacing foghorns

In Maine and New Hampshire in the USA, the coast guard is replacing old style foghorns from the 1970s that were unserviceable, with new technology that is activated by marine radio resulting in fewer blasts of the foghorn noise. In a surprising twist, some residents want to retain the old style foghorns.

Read the full article on the CTV News web site.

Vitamin can help prevent hearing loss

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College and the Gladstone Institutes have found a way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss in a mouse using a simple chemical compound that is a precursor to vitamin B3. This discovery has important implications not only for preventing hearing loss, but also potentially for treating some aging-related conditions that are linked to the same protein.

Read the full article on the Weill Cornell web site.

Phantom subwoofer loudspeaker

The Phantom subwoofer loudspeaker from Devialet radiates sound from the front, back, and laterally out of ports on the sides of the enclosure. The standard version sells for $1,990, and generates 99dBL, and a 3000 watt version the Silver Phantom sells for $2,390 and generates 105 dBL.

European Environment Agency estimates 10,000 deaths per year from road traffic noise


The European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates that

  • more than 125 million Europeans are exposed to road traffic noise levels above legal guidelines (55dB L_den),
  • road traffic noise causes at least 10,000 premature deaths each year,
  • almost 20 million adults are annoyed and a further 8 million suffer sleep disturbance due to environmental noise,
  • over 900 000 cases of hypertension are caused by environmental noise each year,
  • noise pollution causes 43 000 hospital admissions in Europe per year.

The full report Noise in Europe 2014  can be downloaded from the EEA web site.


Interesting uses for audio

The web site has an interesting article on using audio for interesting applications. Briefly,

  • Google Chromecast has a guest mode, that allows your friends to cast to your Chromecast from an Android phone without connecting to your WiFi network. The system sends out a special audio handshaking signal from your TV speakers that can be heard by your friend’s Android phone.
  • A UK company called Chirp lets you send data to a nearby device using sound. From the Chirp web site: “Unlike Bluetooth, Chirp doesn’t require you to pair devices. Unlike email, you don’t need to type in anyone’s address. Unlike instant messaging clients, you don’t have to add recipients from a buddy list. And so on. To share stuff, you don’t need to be friends on Facebook, or to follow each other on Twitter, or be connected on LinkedIn. None of that is needed. Just press the big yellow Chirp button, and anyone running the app can ‘hear’ the data.”
  • uses audio signals for proximity based marketing, which is the distribution of content associated with a particular location.
  • uses ultrasound to create feeling directly on your hands.


Bionic Hearing

A company called Soundhawk is about to release their product Scoop which is an earpiece that looks similar to a bluetooth headset, but far more powerful. The device is intended to augment your hearing and remove background noise from speech.

The web site has a good review article of the product.

For those of you into retro TV series, you may remember The Bionic Woman (a spin-off series from The Six Million Dollar Man), who had a bionic ear to help her hear the quietest sounds.