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Feb 27, 2007

“A good lawnmower does not sound like a good refrigerator” - a very relevant quote from a presentation by Acentech’s David Bowen on sound quality

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NPR ran a story last week about the dangers that blind pedestrians face from quiet hybrid cars. Advocates for the blind are asking car makers to add “sound cues” to hybrid cars to provide audible warning to the blind.

Given that automobiles are one of the most significant noise sources in the country, the elimination of engine noise should be considered a good thing. Unfortunately, the law of unintended consequences has reared its ugly head.

Solutions? Well I don’t think adding a loudspeaker to the engine bay is going to make people happy. If I had to guess, I would say mounting a small sound source or loudspeaker low to the ground and facing to the fore and rear might be a good short term solution. By keeping the source low, Jersey barrier and parapets will make effective noise barriers while still allowing blind pedestrians in the immediate facility to hear the car. Maybe a broadband source similar to the BBS-TEK backup alarm?

Long-term, I think some sort of proximity-based warning device might make sense. But then again, what do I know?

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