The fact that the global population is increasing and more and more people are moving into the cities is nothing new. Population increase and urbanisation go along with discussions about environmental pollution, mobility, and living space. But there is in fact another problem most people don’t pay enough attention to: noise. Within the scope of the Phoenix Design Academy, Malvina Krzywinska regularly reports on trends and solutions.
15 November 2017
The solution: Change the way you hear the world
In a world that’s always getting faster and more bustling, where more and more people move to the cities, and where our surroundings get louder and louder, we often feel overwhelmed by the background noise. What if each of us could design their own soundscape? What if we were free to hear and listen to what we want to, whenever we want to? NONO now offers each user the option to design their very own personal sound backdrop. The basic idea is a further development of the principle that ANC headphones are already using today: the counter-sound produced by the headphones cancels out bothersome sound. But with NONO each user can decide for themselves which sound is to be filtered out. Timbre, echo, volume and clarity of a sound can be altered as well – thus, each user can individually create their perfect sound environment.
29 September 2017
What noise does to us
The effects of noise are much less apparent than those of air or water pollution, and they cannot be made visible in the same way. Airborne particles can be captured by filters, so that users can directly see their cleaning effect. Water they drink will have a different taste when it’s filtered. This direct feedback gives users a sense of the respective product having a positive effect on their life and their health. With sound, this is much more difficult, although the negative impact on human beings and nature is no less serious.
Humans cannot protect themselves against noise. Our ears are always active – even when we're not aware of it. On a subconscious level, we always perceive the acoustic world around us, since we cannot close our ears like we can close our eyes, our nose, and our mouth. Often, increased noise will result in physiological stress reactions, especially at night. The initial effect acts on the psyche of those concerned, which in turn may have negative effects on the body – e.g. high blood pressure, headaches or cardiovascular problems.
However, it’s not only us humans, but also flora and fauna that are impaired by increasing noise. The natural silence animals were used to is hardly to be found anywhere these days. Potential effects are: stagnating animal population and flight. Indirectly, even plants are affected – without animals inseminating them or protecting them against pests there is a danger of certain species becoming extinct.
26 July 2017
Well-being - longing to feel good
Already today, we see a change in everyday behaviour: With regard to the stressful and ambitious life we all know, we increasingly want to look after our health. In this context, people only used to think about a healthy diet, exercise, and a satisfying work-life balance. But more and more, we also develop a certain consciousness of the effects of environmental impact on our health. Industry responds with products intended to minimise or even eliminate this impact. Water and air filters are used to fight against particles often invisible to the naked eye, and they give their users at least a good feeling.
The increasing strain caused by the noisy world we live in, however, doesn't get the attention it deserves. This is a topic that's hard to grapple with. For one thing, people are still not conscious about the ways in which noise exerts a negative effect on them. Then again, there are no particles you could capture, and no filter where you could observe that something has been cleaned.
True, there are products that cancel out sound, i.e. noise cancelling headphones. But what are the effects on us? Will we only get used to the silence? Will the world become more confusing then? Hearing serves important functions. First and foremost, it ensures our sense of orientation and provides in-time danger warning. If we simply switch off these fundamental functions – what will be the consequences?
21 June 2017
Noise as a problem
When many people live and work together in close quarters, the noise level is bound to rise. Sounds have a big effect on our well-being. They change our mood and impact our health – sometimes without our even noticing it. They are always around us, in every situation in life. The effect of the stream of acoustic signals on us may be positive, but also negative. When our evaluation of sound is negative, we call it noise.
Although the evaluation depends on the situation and on personal factors, what stays the same are the effects on human beings, which are still largely underrated. Especially long-term stress on our ears is problematic.
Within the scope of the Phoenix Design Academy, Malvina Krzywinska will deal with “Noise Pollution” in her Master’s thesis. She is studying Product and Transportation Design at the FH JOANNEUM University of Applied Sciences in Graz (Austria) and for the next six months reports on current trends in this area.