Anyone who has used noise-cancelling headphones on a plane or any place where they need some peace and quiet will know that they are a god-send. So what if you could apply that technology to rooms within your house whilst keeping your windows open?

Some very inventive researchers in Singapore posited they could achieve some levels of noise-cancelling using the same concept. To cancel out outside road noise the team placed 24 tiny loudspeakers along a security grille of a Singapore apartment window (a very common feature around Southeast Asia apartments).

In their test they placed a loudspeaker 2 metres and played ambient noise such as road traffic, train and aircraft noise. The setup was most successful in cancelling out noise between 300 – 1000 Hz (most of the noise tested were between 200 – 1000 Hz). There’s a trade-off between smaller speakers (less obtrusive in a window) which have the ability cancel out lower frequency sounds and larger speakers which can cancel out higher frequencies but are of course more obtrusive. A potentially great idea would be a mix of smaller and larger speakers that are actually embedded into the metal grilles.

Often when indoors you’ve considered the dilemna of having windows and considering the pros and cons of whether the level of noise from outside outweighs the benefit of ventilation and a bit of fresh air into the room. This technology might make the decision a little easier to make.

As we continue to spend more time due to various levels of shutdown and WFH instructions, living on top of various family members the need for more peaceful places in the home has become quickly more important.

New Scientist: Noise-cancelling windows halve traffic sounds even when they’re open