Advances in technology are leading to a widespread and rapidly increasing demand for acoustic solutions. Kyriakos Papanagiotou, Founder and Director of acoustics consultancy KP Acoustics Group, discusses how the future of industries such as healthcare, immersive media and consumer electronics will be characterised by an increasing demand for solutions that look to improve sound quality, reduce noise pollution, and enhance the acoustic identity of spaces – as featured in Architecture Magazine.
As the world becomes more aware of the danger of environmental noise, the transformative nature of architectural soundscapes, and the power of advancements in high-tech acoustic solutions – the rising demand for environmental monitoring and acoustic technology across industry and everyday life is inevitable. Those willing to jump on the front foot and prioritise acoustics across our built environment are quickly realising that acoustic solutions and environmental monitoring will be a transformative tool for the future – and one that is key to future-proofing industries.
With environmental noise regarded by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a significant public health risk, acoustic solutions will play a key role in the rise of smart cities, with a focus on reducing noise pollution and improving urban soundscapes by local authorities. From education and healthcare, corporate operations, arts and entertainment, transport and infrastructure to residential living conditions, acoustic design, noise and vibration monitoring across these spaces will be crucial to adhering to regulations and pushing through planning applications that increasingly consider physical and mental wellbeing.
Protecting people from dangerous levels of noise, low-level nuisance noise and creating effective soundscapes that transform the atmosphere of a space can all be achieved through advancements in acoustic solutions employing feedback, and continuous sound monitoring.
Advances in healthcare technology across medical imaging, diagnostics and equipment maintenance will also increase the demand for acoustic solutions and bespoke acoustic identities in healthcare facilities.
With the use of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) based predictive maintenance, there is now increased demand to ensure medical products go through meticulous noise and vibration testing so that they are fit for the end user. Such technological advancements are opening doors for the creation of high-tech solutions for the consistent, automated vibration monitoring of medical equipment – to prevent malfunctions, predict potential hazards and identify faults for effective maintenance.
Equally, as more microscopic medical and operational procedures are developed, such as inverted microscopes used for ICSI and IMSI, vibration control strategies will be key to ensure operations remain unimpeded by vibrations caused by road traffic or building movement.
Architectural acoustic design in healthcare environments will equally be transformative for the improvement of healthcare facilities. Controlling the physical characteristics of sound and creating a healthy acoustic equilibrium will elevate the quality of care inpatients receive and positively impact their progression, recovery and level of comfort.
The demand for improved sound quality in consumer electronics, such as smartphones and home entertainment systems, will continue to drive innovation in the field of acoustics. But perhaps more interestingly, noise monitoring advancements in this space could quickly turn home automation devices such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home or Siri into life-saving tech.
For example, studies show that home assistants have the capability to accurately identify specific patterns of breathing that trigger concerns of cardiac arrest. Should this innovation materialise with Alexa and Siri being able to detect irregular breathing, this consumer technology could mean the difference between life and death by triggering calls to emergency services when serious risks to the user’s health are detected.
Virtual, Augmented and Extended Reality
Advances in virtual and augmented reality also require acoustic expertise to create immersive and realistic sound experiences. Auralization and the creation of cohesive soundscapes for immersive experiences can transform the level of realism achieved in a virtual setting.
Since the wave of the pandemic, VR, AR and XR have become widely adopted in entertainment, education, working environments and more. Utilising advancements in acoustic design to elevate the dimensions of sound within these settings can transform user experience and create a cyclical demand for acoustics solutions in this space.
In addition to immersive experiences, advancements in VR technology and audio rendering techniques have been, and continue to be trialled in a novel approach to environmental noise assessment, and such technology can help to investigate and predict the potential negative effects of noise associated with large-scale infrastructure and property development projects.
The use of renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and hydroelectric power continues to grow, and with this, so does the demand for acoustic solutions to monitor and reduce their impact on surrounding environments.
Throughout the planning stages of renewable energy developments, environmental noise monitoring is key to preventing prolonged planning applications. From wind energy to hydropower facilities, acoustic consultants can provide in-depth design advice, consultancy and monitoring services that are crucial to adhering to strict planning requirements – ensuring we build sustainable energy resources that work to safeguard surrounding communities, as well as our planet.
On top of this, acoustic, noise and vibration monitoring solutions are becoming more sustainable to operate. Renewable energy sources such as solar panels can be used to power consistent noise and vibration monitoring devices on-site for long-term projects, combatting issues of a lack of access to power grids and lowering the carbon footprint of large-scale construction.
These compact and portable monitoring devices will be key to meeting the growing demand for automated monitoring solutions to ensure that machinery and equipment operate at optimal levels. Much like advancements in monitoring solutions for the healthcare industry, the development of high-tech monitoring devices, such as eNView™, work to provide robust, cost-effective, automated and real-time noise, dust and vibration monitoring to predict potential hazards – and identify faults for effective maintenance of unobtrusive levels of environmental noise. Automation and self-healing systems are expected to become more widespread, reducing the need for manual intervention and increasing the efficiency of remote condition monitoring systems.
Overall, the future of acoustics will be characterised by increasing demand for solutions that improve sound quality, reduce noise pollution, and enhance the acoustic environment across a variety of industries and applications – working to prioritise the health and wellbeing of the communities, workforces and consumers they serve.
KP Acoustics is a full-spectrum acoustics consultancy. Get in touch with an experienced consultant by calling 020 3820 5564 or visiting kpacoustics.com.