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.

HALOsonic makes automotive noise cancelling and generating systems

halosonicHARMAN and Lotus Engineering have worked together to create some interesting noise cancellation and generating (!) technology for automotive applications, and marketed under the brand name of HALOsonic. Lotus Engineering have been in the active noise control and sound generation game for a while. They’ve made electronic audio systems to give car driver the impression of a range of customised engine sounds at the push of a button. HALOsonic make audio systems to:

  • cancel engine noise at the cylinder firing frequency,
  • road noise cancelling that uses accelerometers on the suspension system as a reference signal,
  • noise generating system for hybrid cars to alert pedestrians,
  • noise generating systems for passengers to provide a customised engine sound.

Sony’s Vibration Headphones


Sony have released a pair of headphones, MDR-XB450BV , where presumably the -V means vibration. They have a suggested retail price of $A 130. What makes these headphones interesting is Sony’s claim of a frequency response from 5Hz-22,000Hz – note that humans are not good at detecting sounds below 20Hz, and it is difficult to hear above 16kHz.