Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Nixing Noise

PostedSeptember 21, 2018

Lede: A new engineering technique could soon give you quiet space, even in a noisy environment, without bulky headphones.

Randy Atkins: Current noise-cancelling headphones really only have time to produce anti-noise for erasing slowly-changing low frequency sound waves says Romit Roy Choudhury, a University of Illinois professor. Faster high-frequency waves must be blocked by bulky ear coverings. Now Roy Choudhury thinks he can block everything with just a hearing aid-like ear piece. The trick involves a small device with a microphone, placed nearby, which collects ambient noise and…

Romit Roy Choudhury: ...forwards that information over wireless so that the ear piece knows about the sound much in advance.

Randy Atkins: In fact, wireless sends those sound waves about a million times faster than they travel naturally. With that head start, the ear piece..

Romit Roy Choudhury: ...pulls out the sound signal from that wireless signal, computes the anti-noise and cancels all the frequencies at your ears.

Randy Atkins: While the concept works in the lab, more engineering is needed before you’ll see it in stores. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.