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Active Noise Reduction

Chicago, IL
Active Noise Reduction

The goal is to (actively) reduce the noise of the train in an affordable and durable manner

Passive acoustic methods merely block sound, while active methods use microphones, computers, and speakers to alter the sound propagation.

There are two primary active methods to explore:

1) similar to noise canceling headphones. However, for a large open complex environment such as Wabash, this likely remains physically impossible, even with the latest algorithms, sensors, and speaker arrays. Small regions *might* be possible.

2) sound-masking is much more viable. This is an active white/pink noise, that has the result of drowning out much of the environmental noise.

To what extent the train noise can be reduced would have to be determined by experimentation. IE - can it reduce noise to maintain conversation at street level, even with train overhead ?

Small scale demonstrations could be arranged after some experimentation.

There are some examples of this sort of thing globally (, - but we are surprised it is not more prominent, and would enjoy bringing the latest capability to Chicago.

The team is (at least) a Northwestern Psychoacoustics alumn and MIT Media Lab PHD, a UIC EVL alumn (currently at UCSD), and a DePaul Computing Alumn (currently at UCLA), in conjunction with the Laboratory for Experimentation and Research in Arts, Technology, and Architecture (LERATA). Together they bring over 50 years of interactive installation experience in Chicago and worldwide.

Note we could collaborate with others here (street canopy, tunnel, micro zones , etc) - to derive at the best sound-treatment for a defined area. However, note we're not a fan of any system that blocks more light than the train itself (our active system would be imperceptibly mounted onto existing structures).

And while our treatment is inherently invisible, we could work with other artists to create a visual component.

Related topics:
John Horn Sycamore, IL

This idea would not require additional infrastructure and instead would create a better appearance.

Alex Nano Chicago, IL

Thanks ! Yet it would indeed require infrastructure (microphones, computers, speakers) - but they could be subtle and blend into environment. The graphic illustrates sound waves - this project is ideally invisible, just makes the train quieter!

Travis Nam Chicago, IL

Ninja tech, I like. I have some ideas that popped up, but first comes campaign.