Noise-cancelling technology and its potential brilliance (or absurdity)
A few days ago, the folks at Mashable featured the world’s first “noise-cancelling restaurant” in Berkeley, California; the product of Meyer Sounds and restaurant owner John Paluska. John Meyer of Meyer Sounds (probably cousin to Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration) calls the system his “beta test,” since Colma is the first restaurant to ever feature the technology.
Usually applied to places like concert halls and live performance venues, the system is designed to pick up the natural noise of a space, process it through a computer, then feed the tweaked product back into the room. Essentially, it gives complete control of a room’s sound to the sound engineer. With the help of 123 microphones, subwoofers and microphones planted throughout the restaurant, Paluska harnesses the dynamics of his entire dining space on his iPad as he walks the dining floor.
With such a brilliant application of noise-cancelling technology, a truly quiet and peaceful dining experience can be realized. That got us thinking — how else could we exploit this development to idealize our surroundings? Life would be a lot easier if we could tune out the neighbor’s music with the turn of a dial.
1.) Music festival stages
There’s nothing worse than paying $150 for a music festival ticket, only to be forced to sit through six shitty opening acts. With the addition of noise-cancelling stages, sound engineers could gauge the interest of the crowd and adjust the band’s output accordingly. Finally, a world without the sounds of Scott Stapp.
2.) Bedrooms and living rooms
For the old and the married, or those with young children who love to burst into rooms unannounced.
3.) Movie theaters
This would actually be a very practical application depending on the genre of movie being shown. Comedy movies are generally more enjoyable when you can laugh along with your friends, but I could do without Popcorn Pete devouring his snack handfuls at a time right behind me.
An interesting idea would be to hire individual sound engineers for horror movies that could raise and lower the noise of the room for suspense. Imagine the darkened theater growing steadily quieter as our lead character creeps down an empty hallway, the floorboards creaking underneath. Just as the killer bursts through the door to his left, the engineer cuts the cancellation and the audience can scream in unison. Chilling.
4.) Bathroom stalls
5.) Airplane cabins
This is a no-brainer. Perhaps it’ll never happen because noise-cancelling headphones have already saturated the market of airline travelers, but an international airline that could guarantee serenity on a 14-hour flight would be in for a serious contract with someone like John Meyer.
Crying babies and loud mouth businessmen won’t be going away anytime soon, so let’s hope one day everyone can enjoy the peace and quiet of noise-cancelling headphones, without the $100 or more purchase.