Bang & Olufsen, SoundFocus, Wavecare and Aalborg University have joined forces in a new research project, to develop an audio system, that improves health and quality of life for Danes – initially in hospitals and at home. 

In the ISOBEL project, partners will test interactive dynamic sound zones in real healthcare and domestic settings.

In the ISOBEL project, partners will test interactive dynamic sound zones in real healthcare and domestic settings.

Today, 40 pct. of the Danish population is negatively affected by sound, and every fifth Dane is exposed to sound during the night in quantities that are profound harmful to health.

Now Innovations fund Denmark, Bang & Olufsen, SoundFocus, Wavecare and Aalborg University have joined forces in a new, major research project, to develop an audio system, that improves health and quality of life for Danes – initially in hospitals and at home. 

Several studies show that unwanted sound has great consequences for humans. It can cause stress, heart diseases, psychological problems and lower well-being and productivity. 

On the other hand, wanted sound, e.g. music or nature sounds, has demonstrated positive effects. It can be stress- and pain-relieving, lower nervousness and give a sense of joy. Therefore, there are significant health potentials in delivering positive sound impressions while reducing unwanted sounds. 

Control wanted and unwanted sound

The objective of the new project is to develop an entirely new type of sound system, where speakers not only play a specific channel but in interaction can create a number of audio zones in a room or area. With the system, you should be able to control the sound being played and mask unwanted noise, without the use of, e.g. headphones or other personal equipment. 

The system will automatically and with continuous measurements change the acoustic settings based on the user’s wishes and needs, and thus make the sound zones able to change the shape, size and location in, e.g. a private home or in a hospital. 

Nowadays, there is no well-functioning sound zone system that can control wanted and unwanted sound or adapt to changes in acoustic spaces, for example, if the number of people in a room changes or if you open a window. 

According to Jesper Kjeldskov, Head of Department and Professor at Department of Computer Science at Aalborg University, the potential health benefits are enormous. 

 “In general, too little focus has been placed on the health effect of sound – and not least unwanted sound. But we believe that the potential for dynamic sound zones is enormous. Imagine if we can create an invisible sound bubble around patients in a hospital, where we remove unwanted noise or increase positive sounds. Or, on a plane or at home, you can create a healthy sound environment with significantly less experienced noise. With such a system, we will be able to change the way our physical environment influences us, and it will be beneficial to our health,” says Jesper Kjeldskov.

For ourdoor areas as well

Søren Bech, Research Director at Bang & Olufsen, says:

 “In Bang & Olufsen, it is one of our focus areas to use our core competencies within sound to improve quality of life for people, by contributing to research and raising awareness of the positive effect sound can have on people’s well-being and health. We are very proud to be part of such a large and important project, and we look forward to working with the other partners.”

Initially, the dynamic sound system will be tested in hospitals and private homes. In the longer term, it is expected that the results from the project can be expanded and scaled to, e.g. outdoor areas and large public spaces. 

More information

The project is funded by Innovation Fund Denmark and project partners.

For more information, please contact project partners: Contact Us

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