Turn Windows Into Sound Cancelling Filters

Sono is a conceptual gadget to turn windows into sound cancelling filters (similar to noise cancelling headphones). A microphone listens to noise coming in and then a speaker sends out sound waves to cancel the noises that have been set to cancel. In this way they are even cooler than noise cancelling headphones as you can tune the filter to let in birds singing and filter out car alarms, etc.

diagram of pieces of the sono device

Very cool, I hope this becomes a gadget we can buy (it is only conceptual now). Read more at Dyson design award site.

Noise canceling works not by blocking sound but by using properties of the wave pattern of sound to send sound waves that add to the existing sound waves to effectively eliminate the sound wave – thus we don’t hear anything. This is know as Active noise control or active noise reduction. It isn’t blocking the noise but adding other sound waves that combine with the noise you want to filter to eliminate the sound wave – it actually doesn’t eliminate it, as countering the sound wave exactly is not likely possible, but it results in a very limited sound.

Active noise reduction is best for low frequency sound (due to the nature of waves – low frequency has longer wave lengths). My guess is this will mean this product has difficulty blocking high frequency sound nearly as well as it will do with low frequency sounds.

Related: Gadgets to Mask Noise and Help You Sleep or ConcentrateDealing with Noise Pollution in Your CondoZeo Personal Sleep ManagerUniversal Translator on the Way

Universal Translator on the Way

Universal translators are a gadget I think will be great. We still are not there, but we keep getting closer. Microsoft, Google and Apple are doing a great deal of work on making this happen.

At the end of this webcast Microsoft demonstrates speaking in English and having that translated and then output in spoken Chinese.

Related: Getting Closer to a Universal TranslatorSony Student Design Workshop: Print Odor on PostcardsComputer Control via Gesture

Gadgets to Mask Noise and Help You Sleep or Concentrate

Some people (me, for example) are bothered by noise much more than others are. I find it hard to sleep or concentrate when I am being distracted by random noises. Sound proofing (to prevent the noise from getting to you) is wonderful but often can not take care of all noise problems. In this case you essentially have to mask the noise with other noise.

photo of the Sleep Mate sound machine

Sleep Mate sound machine - it is small ( 5.8 x 5.8 x 3.8 inches ; 1.6 pounds)

Fans do this reasonable well, actually. But they are designed for something else and can have annoying noise signatures themselves.

The Sound Conditioner is a device specifically designed to produce sound similar to that of a fan but many (including me) find the sound more soothing than a fan. It is also very adjustable. But basically it just produces white noise by blowing air through adjustable openings. It also is nice if you don’t want to blow the air around your room (as a fan will do). It does require 115 volts (the leve used in the USA). They have an identical version called the Sleep Mate (but if you want something for an office the word, sleep can bother some managers). I would suggest getting the dual speed version (that is what I have).

image of Ecotones sound machine

Ecotones sound machine (it is also small 6.3 x 4.5 x 5.5 inches ; 2 pounds)

The Ecotones Sound + Sleep Machine is a great device that creates various noises (stream, ocean, fireplace, rainfall, meadow…). One great feature of this device is that it has a microphone it uses to hear the noise level and then adjusts to increase the volume it produces to mask the noise pollution. It also will accept 100-240 volts (it has a transformer itself – like computer laptops do). It is very good for low levels of noise pollution (I would say under 60 decibels). However high levels it has to get so loud to mask them that it isn’t very useful.

Related: Dealing with Noise Pollution in Your CondoKindle DX (the one that isn’t tiny)Zojirushi Rice Cooker and Warmer