Call for Nominations – Acoustical Society of America Science Communication Awards

The Acoustical Society of America offers Science Communication Awards in Acoustics to recognize excellence in the communication of acoustics-related topics to a popular audience. The 2023 award cycle will accept content created between Jan. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2022; if you have seen, heard, or created something acoustics-related during this time frame, please nominate it! Each nominated entry will be judged according to its general accessibility, relevance to acoustics, accuracy, and quality. Nominations will be accepted until March 15, 2023.

Improving Child Development by Monitoring Noisy Day Cares #ASA183

At the 183rd ASA Meeting, Kenton Hummel will describe how soundscape research in day cares can improve child and provider outcomes and experiences. He and his team collaborated with experts in engineering, sensing, early child care, and health to monitor three day care centers for 48-hour periods. High noise levels and long periods of loud fluctuating sound can negatively impact children and staff by increasing the effort it takes to communicate. In contrast, a low background noise level allows for meaningful speech, which is essential for language, brain, cognitive, and social/emotional development.

How Behind-the-Scenes Sound Mixing Makes Movie Magic #ASA183

Modern movie sound mixing uses techniques like impulse responses to reproduce dialogue and other sounds. These methods are crucial to align what moviegoers see and hear and keep them engaged in the story. At the 183rd ASA meeting, Jeffrey Reed of Taproot Audio Design will demonstrate the behind-the-scenes audio engineering required to re-create the acoustics of movie sets and locations, sharing short clips of film to compare the original recording to the studio mixed product.

Helping Acoustic Concepts Resonate with Students #ASA183

“I am sitting in a room, different from the one you are in now.” With these words, Alvin Lucier begins a fascinating recording where his voice warps and becomes indistinguishable over time, solely because of how sound reflects in the room. For physics students, this audio can be used to reveal details of the surrounding room and teach important lessons about acoustic resonance. Andy Piacsek, of Central Washington University, will discuss how he employs Lucier’s project in the classroom during his talk, “Students are sitting in a room.”

Cultivating a Music Studio to Sound Like an Indoor Forest #ASA183

At the 183rd ASA Meeting, researchers will describe “The evolution of Blackbird Studio C,” a space designed to provide an accurate and immersive mixing and production environment. They wanted to create a unique, ambient anechoic space that would allow ambient sound to decay equally across different frequencies and be free from interfering reflections, making it sound like an indoor forest. So they covered the walls and ceiling with primitive root diffusers. This technology causes sound energy to diffuse and radiate in many directions.

Why Those Sounds From Your Upstairs Neighbor Are So Annoying #ASA183

At the 183rd ASA Meeting, Markus Mueller-Trapet will describe experiments designed to simulate and measure the perceived annoyance experienced from noisy neighbors in multi-unit residential buildings. He and his team provided a living room-like situation and recorded impact sounds of objects dropping and people walking. They then presented the recordings to study participants, using different playback techniques and virtual reality, and created an online survey. The team hopes to provide guidance to architects and building code developers.

Supersonic Travel, Without the Sonic Boom #ASA183

At the 183rd ASA Meeting, Gautam Shah will discuss plans to test a supersonic aircraft with technology to alter how supersonic shock waves behave and reduce sonic booms. NASA will conduct a series of flights over various communities across the U.S., and Shah and his team will measure the sound of the aircraft and conduct public surveys to understand the public response to different noise levels. By providing this information to regulatory agencies, the group hopes to inform an overland supersonic sound standard.

3D-Printed Violins Bring Music into More Hands #ASA183

Creating 3D-printed, low-cost, durable violins for music students, researchers have explored the factors that result in the best violin sounds and performed a concerto composed specifically for 3D-printed instruments. The violin was created in two sections. The body is made of a plastic polymer material and designed to produce a resonant tone, while the neck and fingerboard are printed in smooth ABS plastic to be comfortable in the musician’s hands. The result is a violin that produces a darker, more mellow sound than traditionally made instruments.

Listen to the Toilet — It Could Detect Disease #ASA183

Researchers describe how a noninvasive microphone sensor could identify bowel diseases without collecting any identifiable information. They tested the technique on audio data from online sources, transforming each audio sample of an excretion event into a spectrogram, which essentially captures the sound in an image. The images were fed to a machine learning algorithm that learned to classify each event based on its features. The algorithm’s performance was tested against data with and without background noises.

Shhhh … Speaking More Quietly in Restaurants Means Everyone Can Be Heard #ASA183

In a crowded restaurant, the sounds of conversations bounce off walls, creating background noise. Each individual wants to be heard, so they end up talking a little bit louder, which increases the overall din. Eventually – barring an interruption – the system gets loud enough to reach the limit of the human voice. Braxton Boren will discuss this cycle, called the Lombard effect, and how it can be disrupted in his presentation, “A game theory model of the Lombard effect in public spaces.”

Media Invited to Explore Urban Acoustics with a ‘Sound Walk’ of Nashville #ASA183

The 183rd ASA Meeting will include an urban sound walk, in which media are invited to explore Nashville, its sounds, and efforts to design projects that enhance the sonic environment and mitigate noise. Following the walk, ASA will host a workshop on soundscape design and how planning can be used to create sustainable, walkable, livable urban environments. The walk is an opportunity for media and anyone interested in urban soundscapes, while the workshop is intended for city planners, architects, officials, and others whose work lies on the interface between sound and the community. All are welcome.

New study shows spiders use webs to extend their hearing

A newly published study of orb-weaving spiders — has yielded some extraordinary results: The spiders are using their webs as extended auditory arrays to capture sounds, possibly giving spiders advanced warning of incoming prey or predators.

Saturn V Was Loud But Didn’t Melt Concrete

Abundant internet claims about the acoustic power of the Saturn V suggest that it melted concrete and lit grass on fire over a mile away, but such ideas are undeniably false. In The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, researchers used a physics-based model to estimate the rocket’s acoustic levels and obtained a value of 203 decibels, which matched the limited data from the 1960s. So, while the Saturn V was extremely loud, that kind of power is nowhere near enough to melt concrete or start grass fires.

Update Noise Regulations to Protect Seals, Porpoises

In The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, scientists in Denmark review recent experiments and find noise regulations may need to be changed to protect porpoises, seals, and other sea-dwelling mammals. Current guidance for seals and porpoises is based on few measurements in a limited frequency range; the guidance is still valid for these frequencies, but investigators found substantial deviations in recent studies of the impact of low frequency noise on seals and high frequency noise on porpoises.

‘Urban Canyons’ Prolong Sonic Booms in Cities

Recent efforts have sought to make low-boom supersonic aircraft, but noise issues due to sonic booms may become more pronounced in cities, where buildings form canyons that distort the booms. In The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, researchers conducted simulations comparing how sonic booms reflect differently over a single building, two neighboring buildings, and multiple buildings spaced at regular intervals. The researchers found the wider the streets compared to the height of buildings, the less booms are affected. Narrower streets introduced more complex boom propagation.

Turning Hearing Aids into Noise-Canceling Devices #ASA182

For someone using an assistive listening device in a crowded place, it might make little difference whether the device is on or off. Nearby conversation directed at the user might be drowned out by distant conversation between other people, ambient noise from the environment, or music or speech piped through a loudspeaker system.

Corey and his colleagues worked to eliminate at least one source of noise, the one emanating from loudspeakers or other broadcast systems.

Acoustic Sensors Pinpoint Shooters in Urban Setting #ASA182

As part of the 182nd ASA Meeting, Luisa Still, of Sensor Data and Information Fusion, will discuss the important factors in determining shooter localization accuracy. In an urban setting, buildings or other obstacles can reflect, refract, and absorb sound waves, which can severely impact said accuracy. Preemptively predicting this is crucial for mission planning in urban environments. Still and her team used geometric considerations to model acoustic sensor measurements. This modeling, combined with information on sensor characteristics, the sensor-to-shooter geometry, and the urban environment, allowed them to calculate a prediction of localization accuracy.

DeepSqueak Tool Identifies Marine Mammal Calls #ASA182

As the size and number of acoustic datasets increase, accurately and quickly matching the bioacoustics signals to their corresponding sources becomes more challenging and important. This is especially difficult in noisy, natural acoustic environments. At the 182nd ASA Meeting, Elizabeth Ferguson, from Ocean Science Analytics, will describe how DeepSqueak, a deep learning tool, can classify underwater acoustic signals. It uses deep neural network image recognition and classification methods to determine the important features within spectrograms, then match those features to specific sources.

Making Racetrack Noise Bearable with Physics #ASA182

Raceways can produce noise from many kinds of vehicles, such as race cars, street race cars, racing motorcycles, go-karts, monster trucks, and cheering spectators. During the 182nd ASA Meeting, Bonnie Schnitta, from SoundSense LLC, will discuss her efforts to reduce the noise in a Michigan neighborhood from a nearby raceway. She and her team examined several different types of barriers, including berms, acoustic barriers, or dense foliage, to block that noise from reaching surrounding houses and businesses.

Matt Ajemian, Ph.D., Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Matt Ajemian, Ph.D., has received a $1,103,081 NSF CAREER grant for a project that will build fundamental knowledge on where and when large shell-crushing predators feed in order to ensure a sustainable future for shellfish species. Further, the work can provide guidance to shellfish restoration programs that are currently “flying blind” with respect to predation risk.

To Better Understand Speech, Focus on Who Is Talking

Researchers have found that matching the locations of faces with the speech sounds they are producing significantly improves our ability to understand them, especially in noisy areas where other talkers are present. In the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, they outline a set of online experiments that mimicked aspects of distracting scenes to learn more about how we focus on one audio-visual talker and ignore others.

Cylindrical Phononic Crystals Sense Physical, Chemical Properties of Transported Liquids

Phononic crystals are an innovative resonant platform for sensing and understanding the volumetric properties of liquids, attracting a growing interest from researchers. In The Journal of Applied Physics, by AIP Publishing, researchers from France and Germany propose the design of a tubular phononic crystal (TPC) for the purpose of sensing the biochemical and physical properties of a liquid filling the hollow part of the tube.

Voices of Reason? Study Links Acoustic Correlations, Gender to Vocal Appeal

What makes a voice attractive? The question is the subject of broad interest, with far-reaching implications in our personal lives, the workplace, and society. In The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, scientists describe research that explores the interactions between gender and articulatory precision to gauge vocal attractiveness. They were surprised to find a sizable gender difference in speech intelligibility.

COVID-19 Creates Hearing, Balance Disorders, Aggravates Tinnitus Symptoms

Evidence suggests auditory and vestibular effects should be added to the growing list of physiological impacts of COVID-19. During the 180th Meeting, Colleen Le Prell from the University of Texas at Dallas will talk about hearing and balance disorders associated with coronavirus infection and how pandemic-related stress and anxiety may aggravate tinnitus symptoms. Her presentation, “Hearing disorders secondary to infection with SARS-CoV-2,” will take place Thursday, June 10.

Headphones, Earbuds Impact Younger Generations’ Future Audio Health

As more people are taking advantage of music on the go, personal audio systems are pumping up the volume to the detriment of the listener’s hearing. During the 180th ASA Meeting, Daniel Fink from The Quiet Coalition and Jan Mayes will talk about current research into personal audio system usage and the need for public health hearing conservation policies. Their session, “Personal audio system use can harm auditory health,” will take place Thursday, June 10.

Pandemic Quarantine Acoustically Contributes to Mental, Physical Health Degradation

The prolonged impact of the COVID-19 pandemic created widespread lockdown fatigue and increased social tension in multiunit housing, but small improvements in quality-of-life routines may help people cope. During the 180th ASA Meeting, Braxton Boren from American University will discuss noise prevention techniques and the use of alterative acoustic stimulation to help those who find themselves in pandemic-related lockdowns. The session, “The Soundscape of Quarantine,” will take place Wednesday, June 9.

Acoustical Evolution Increases Battle Between Predator, Prey

In the battle between hunter and hunted, sound plays an integral part in success or failure. In the case of bats vs. moths, the insects are using acoustics against their winged foes. During the 180th ASA Meeting, Thomas Neil from the University of Bristol will discuss how moth wings have evolved in composition and structure to help them create anti-bat defenses. The session, “Moth wings are acoustic metamaterials,” will take place Wednesday, June 9.

Measuring Sound Diversity of Quietness

The world is filled with myriad sounds that can overwhelm a person with relentless acoustics. Noise is so prevalent in everyday life that the concept and achievement of comfortable quiet is hard to define. During the 180th ASA Meeting, Aggelos Tsaligopoulos from the University of the Aegean will describe how quiet could be measured in the hopes of better understanding its impact on people. The session, “Towards a new understanding of the concept of quietness,” will take place Wednesday, June 9.

Personalized Soundscape Could Help People with Dementia with Time, Place Recognition

Designing a soundscape to improve quality of life for an individual is centered on putting their perception at the heart of the process. During the 180th ASA Meeting, Arezoo Talebzadeh from Ghent University will show how a personalized soundscape can help those with dementia by providing clues regarding time of day and place. The session, “Soundscape design for people with dementia; the correlation between psychoacoustic parameter and human perception,” will take place Wednesday, June 9.

Newborns on ventilators can now be better protected from a common breathing tube incident

After 30 years of development, a medical device designed to continuously monitor the airways of the tiniest ventilated patients could become the standard of care for babies worldwide

Potential Vocal Tracking App Could Detect Depression Changes

According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people worldwide have Major Depression Disorder and another 20 million have schizophrenia. During the 180th ASA Meeting, Carol Espy-Wilson from the University of Maryland,will discuss how a person’s mental health status is reflected in the coordination of speech gestures. The keynote lecture, “Speech Acoustics and Mental Health Assessment,” will take place Tuesday, June 8.

Noisy Homes During Pandemic Drive Future Design Choices

Due to strict lockdowns, many of us have seen and heard our family and neighbors much more than ever before. During the 180th ASA Meeting, Ayca Sentop Dümen and Konca Saher from the Turkish Acoustical Society will discuss the effects of pandemic-related noise on people’s satisfaction with their homes and how this may inform future design choices. Their presentation, “Noise annoyance in dwellings during the first wave of Covid-19,” will take place Tuesday, June 8.

Balancing Speech Intelligibility, Face Covering Effectiveness in Classrooms During the Pandemic

A better understanding of the impacts of face masks and shields on acoustic transmission in classrooms could help optimize educational settings. During the 180th ASA Meeting, Laura and Rich Ruhala from Kennesaw State University will talk about how various types of face coverings may affect students’ understanding of their teacher. Their presentation, “Acoustical transmission of face coverings used to reduce coronavirus transmission in a classroom environment,” will take place Tuesday, June 8.

Teaching Drones to Hear Screams from Catastrophe Victims

Unmanned aerial vehicles may help emergency crews find those in need and provide situational awareness over a large area. During the 180th ASA Meeting, Macarena Varela from Fraunhofer FKIE will describe how a system using an array of microphones and advanced processing techniques could be a lifesaver for disaster victims. The session, “Bearing Estimation of Screams Using a Volumetric Microphone Array Mounted on a UAV,” will take place Tuesday, June 8.

Acoustics in Focus: Virtual Press Conference Schedule for 180th Meeting of Acoustical Society of America

Press conferences at the 180th ASA Meeting will cover the latest in acoustical research during the Acoustics in Focus meeting. The virtual press conferences will take place each day of the meeting and offer reporters and outlets the opportunity to hear key presenters talk about their research. To ensure the safety of attendees, volunteers, and ASA staff, Acoustics in Focus will be hosted entirely online.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Story, Feature Ideas from 180th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America

The 180th ASA Meeting, being held virtually June 8-10, will feature sessions on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted hearing health, affected noise annoyance in urban settings, and adjusted how teachers talked and listened to their students. There will be presentations on how acoustics shapes speech in children, impacts mental health, and potentially signals health problems.

New technology ‘listens’ for endangered right whales

One of the world’s most endangered whale species could have added protection from threats posed by human marine activity, through technology developed by the University of East Anglia (UEA). In partnership with the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and…

Silicon chips combine light and ultrasound for better signal processing

The continued growth of wireless and cellular data traffic relies heavily on light waves. Microwave photonics is the field of technology that is dedicated to the distribution and processing of electrical information signals using optical means. Compared with traditional solutions…

Save-the-Date: Acoustics in Focus, June 8-10, Offers New Presentation Options

The Acoustical Society of America will hold its 180th meeting June 8-10. To ensure the safety of attendees, volunteers, and ASA staff, the June meeting, “Acoustics in Focus,” will be hosted entirely online with new features to ensure an exciting experience for attendees. Reporters are invited to attend the meeting at no cost and participate in a series of virtual press conferences featuring a selection of newsworthy research.