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Finding Total Silence

For many, silence is golden.  For Dr. Ron Miles, it's a necessity because his research depends on it.

"I started in the 90s when we were studying the hearing in flies," said Miles, an Associate Dean of Research at Binghamton University.

Miles works with university staff and students to researches and develop microphone technology..

"The idea behind this is to develop microphones that work well in  hearing aides that enable the persons that's using the hearing aids to understand speech better in a noisy environment," said Miles.

Finding total silence on the Binghamton University campus is no longer a challenge for miles, in fact it's home to one of the quietest places on earth.

Part of construction on the Innovative Technologies Complex
included an anechoic chamber.  The room is free of echos and reverberations.

The chamber is built under engineering and science building.  To get inside, you must walk through 1, 2, 3, 4-- five doors and you're finally inside.

It's built with more than 600 fiberglass wedges that absorb sound and minimize sound waves reverberations down to 80 hertz.  average speech is between 500 and 5000 hertz.

"We recently demonstrated significant advances in the technology using the chamber.  It provides us with an excellent test space to characterize performance of these microphone," said Miles.

He says the chamber space has also allowed staff and students at the university to expand into other areas of research.

"It can also be used to study noise sounds so, like a loud speaker.  How does a loud speaker distribute sound around the room but also other noise- like a machine or something.  If you want to understand where the sound is coming from a machine-that can help you to figure out how to reduce the noise it makes," said Miles.

The university funded the construction for the chamber.  Research grants and charitable donations help pay for the equipment that could prove for the hard of hearing that silence is golden, at least when it comes to research.


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