Less is more a sound problematic

By Tobias Tingström January 13, 2020 Edition CHIC 2019-2020Discover Canary project


Guess who’s back? Back againEminem 2002

Yes, you are right, La Table team is back for a follow up on his or her (still not decided) project.


At the end of our last post, we left you with many questions. In the following paragraphs we will answer some of them with the help of researches we conducted.


Basically, our product aims to cancel noises produced by industrial machines using noise cancelling technology. The main beneficiary would be the workers that work near these machines (close enough that they can suffer from the noise the produce).


Some interviews with factory workers and manager confirmed the assumption about the noise produced by the machines. It is a problem and even if headphones are provided to the employee, it is his / her own responsibility to wear them. Some don’t because they say that it decreases their ability to be aware of their environment (someone walking behind them, a colleague warning about something) others say that they are used to the sound and don’t feel the need to wear any hearing protection headphone. On the manager side, they emphasise on the fact that the headphone must be worn while the machines are running, but they can’t go behind each workers and force them all day long to put the headphone on. Moreover, some say that there is a second negative effect caused by the laziness of some workers. Some companies have yearly reviews performed by external entities in order to check if the company comply with all the rules and because of the lack of assiduity from the workers they may loose some points because of that.


About the technical part, so yes it’s possible because it’s already implemented in some of the music headphones you can buy, but noise cancelling in our project require more than just cancelling ambient noise, we need to cancel the noise produced by one or more machines for each employee. Moreover, these people are moving, from one workplace to another one. Thus, we must cancel the noise at the employee level, implying for each employee to wear a pair of hearing protection headphones that carry the noise cancelling technology. By doing so, several problems occur:

1.the price of each headphone would be significantly higher than normal protection headphones.

2.The need to charge the headphones from time to time.

3.Headphone may not be the most suitable solution for any kind of work that require sound protection (tampon, plastic…)


So basically we had to rethink our solution because when faced with the reality of the filed, what we thought was good does not fits the needs and constraints of this problematic.


In order to have a wider view on the sound problematic at work we contact the Suva: Suva is the main insurer for incidents and illness at work. They have a section dedicated to sound which conduct many study about the various impacts of sound at the work place.

Moreover, when we talk about noise problems at work we have to take into account the legal part of things because some rules settle at what level (Db) a sound is considered as harmful or not depending on the frequency of the latter.


On the next episode of Keeping Up With La Table Team (and not The Kardashian Family), we will explain to you how we started over after the interview conducted with the Suva in Lucerne!