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Mar 11, 2007

I’ve talked before about politicians making noise control a part of their political platform. Another example is Chicago Alderman Burtan Natarus who wants to use “sound cameras” to crack down on motorcycle enforcement.

“Sound cameras” is an idea I’ve heard tossed around for a few years now. Yeah, it’s something that is certainly possible, but I haven’t been convinced that a camera-based noise measurement system is something that can be done 1) cheaply, 2) accurately, and 3) reliably.

The closest thing I’ve been able to find to a street-ready system is Acoustic Research Laboratories’ “Noise Camera.” The system is based around a single Rion UC-53A omnidirectional microphone, which means that the system won’t be able to distinguish between several potential sources. If the video shows a lone biker at an intersection, and the noise meter is spiking off the charts, it’s probably reasonable to conclude that the bike is the source. However, if the video shows a teenager stopped at a light in one car, and an old lady stopped at the same light in a different car, and the meter shows an exceedance, who gets the ticket? Maybe we should assume that the kid is the noise-maker. Then again, maybe we shouldn’t.

The other big problem with this particular system is that components are connected via wifi. Since so many devices operate in the 2.4 and 5 Ghz bands, and since many of these devices can interfere with wifi transmission, I don’t think it will take long for boomers to start driving around with various wireless devices that will “accidentially” interfere with the camera’s wireless communitcations. But I guess we’ll see.

Again, it’s not that a foolproof system is impossible to build - I can envision a system using multilple mics that can triangulate the source, or maybe something similar to sound-intensity probes that can better determine direction. But can it be done cheaply and reliability? Hey, if someone wants to give me a $50,000 grant, I’d be happy to look into it.

[from the Smart Cameras blog]

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By now, many people have heard of MIT’s OpenCourseWare program. If you haven’t, check out the recent Boston Globe article.

People always ask what kind of acoustics courses I took at MIT. Here’s an opportunity to check out some of the courses for yourself.

MIT doesn’t have an “acoustics ” program like it did back in the day, so I had to pick and choose various courses in different majors. Here’s a snapshot:

Electrical engineering:


Mechanical engineering:

Missing from this list:

And of course there were the other required courses needed for my Mech E degree that I’m not listing here.

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