Researchers create a device that cancels out noise pollution by half

While trains in Singapore are a convenient way to travel, living near train tracks could mean that you sometimes have to suffer through the constant noise of trains passing by.

However, researchers are currently working on noise reduction technology that could soon help address this issue.

According to a team of researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the noise-canceling device that they’re currently developing could benefit countless individuals who reside near busy roads, construction sites, or train tracks.

The NTU researchers explained that the device, which can be mounted on window grilles, can reduce at least 50 percent of noise from the surrounding environment. The noise-canceling device can also work even if windows are wide open.

The concept behind the technology used to develop the device is not new. However, this marks the first time that a noise-canceling device is being used on a fully opened window, noted the researchers.

Earlier studies in European universities have only experimented with bulky devices used on partially opened windows.

The noise-canceling device is still at the prototype stage, and it was made with technology also used for high-end headphones that cancel external noise. The researchers adapted the technology so the device could be used in large, open areas.

The device comes with a special sound-emitting mechanism that acts as a speaker. The mechanism is hooked up to a processing unit. When the device detects noise, it immediately emits “anti-noise” sound waves that can counter the invading noise.

Thanks to the “anti-noise” soundwaves, any incoming noise is turned into “a softer ambient sound” before it enters living spaces.

Professor Gan Woon Seng, director for NTU’s Centre for Infocomm Technology, shared that busy traffic that has a decibel level of 75 can be reduced by about 10 decibels to 65 with the noise-canceling device. (Related: Noise pollution is bad for your health: Tips for how you can mitigate background noise to protect your neurology.)

Like a small portable Bluetooth speaker, the device is made up of several units that are installed in one area to form a grid-like pattern on a window grille.

Professor Seng added that researchers are working to improve the technology because they want to make the device smaller and more cost-effective to produce. The researchers want to continue testing the device in commercial or residential areas for at least two to three more years.

He concluded, “Compared to [noise-cancellation headphones], what we have achieved is far more technically challenging as we needed to control the noise in a large open area, instead of just around the ear.”

Tips to reduce noise pollution

While NTU researchers are currently working on this amazing noise-canceling device, here are some tips to naturally reduce noise levels in your home:

  • Buy noise-canceling headphones – A pair of noise-canceling headphones will effectively reduce noise pollution. The headphones work by filtering unwanted noise before it reaches your ears.
  • Close the windows – It sounds simple, but closing the windows can help reduce the amount of noise entering your home. Unless you absolutely have to, only open the windows when it’s quiet.
  • Plant trees – Trees can help reduce noise levels in major highways, urban areas, and even near your home. Aside from minimizing noise pollution in your neighborhood, planting trees can also improve air quality.
  • Switch off electronics or reduce their volume – Computers, game systems, and televisions can contribute to noise pollution when on high volumes. Turn off appliances or devices that aren’t in use or lower the volume to reduce noise pollution. You can also turn them off to save on electricity costs.
  • Use earplugs – Wearing earplugs is a quick way to reduce noise levels. Use earplugs when you’re going to sleep at night or during the day if the noise in your area is particularly loud.

You can read more articles about research focused on minimizing noise pollution, like this noise canceling device from NTU, at

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