Tag Archive: windows

Experimental device may cancel noise entering through windows

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, and Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition

David Waldstein, the New York Times, writes about an experimental device that cancels noise that enters open windows. Waldstein notes that “[w]ith any sound, the best way to reduce it is at the source,” noting that the window is often the source of noise “because most noise enters a room that way.” He then introduces us to the device, developed by researchers in Singapore, that can be placed in a window to reduce incoming sounds.

While individuals living with traffic noises would probably welcome windows that could reduce sounds by ten decibels, as the article claims, my guess is they would advocate for less noise coming from the true sources: aircraft and road traffic. These same people still want to enjoy the outside parts of their homes as well as the interior.

The experimental device borrows from techniques used in noise-canceling headphones. Small speakers are placed in an opened window that emit sound waves that correspond to incoming sounds, which they then neutralize. Noise cancellation can be done for the sounds from overhead planes and traffic, but not for all possible incoming sounds, like firecrackers, car horns, or loud conversations. To include a broader range of sound frequencies would require larger speakers and larger windows.

An added benefit of the device, the researchers claim, is that the window can remain open. Because the city of Singapore doesn’t experience cold weather, since people want  to reduce their use of air conditioners, this is most desirable. But how would this work out in cities that have to keep their windows closed during the colder months of the year? The researchers do point out that their work is still in an experimental stage and that there are issues that they have to address before implementing their device in field studies.

Let me add that one complaint that has been voiced is that the device is not that attractive. But, as Waldstein concludes, “if it can neutralize the sound of the jet taking off from Runway 13 at LaGuardia, that is (soft) music to the ear.” Well, at least during the warmer months in New York City.

Dr. Arline Bronzaft is a researcher, writer, and consultant on the adverse effects of noise on mental and physical health. She is co-author of “Why Noise Matters,” author of “Listen to the Raindrops” (children’s book illustrated by Steven Parton), and has written extensively about noise in books, encyclopedias, academic journals, and the popular press.  In addition, she is a Professor Emerita of the City University of New York and Board member of GrowNYC.

If living over an airport flight path is hell, imagine what it’s like living near a mililtary base:

Residents fed up with fighter jet noise. Madison, Wisconsin residents gird themselves as the U.S. Air Force looks for two bases to house F-35 Lightning IIs, with Truax Field in Madison on the finalist short list. The residents are concerned because they are already exposed to jet noise from F-16s.  One resident stated that the “windows of her home on Madison’s north side rattle when military jets from Truax fly over.”  Another described the F-16 noise as “ear-shattering.”

Naturally, there are forces who want the F-35 to come to Madison, claiming that the move “could create hundreds of jobs” (emphasis added).  Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce president Zach Brandon asserts that “the economic benefits and the need for communities to contribute to national defense efforts outweigh the annoyance of noise” (emphasis added).  Apparently Zach Brandon does not live over the flight path nor is aware of the health implications of noise exposure.  Or maybe he’s just distracted by visions of dollar bills.  Good luck, Madison residents.