App turns smartphones into noise sensors

September 19, 2014 05:02 pm | Updated 05:02 pm IST - LONDON

NoiseTube is developed by researchers at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium. Photo: S Subramanium

NoiseTube is developed by researchers at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium. Photo: S Subramanium

If high levels of sound disturb your sleep at night, you can now turn your smartphone into a noise sensor for further action as researchers have now developed an app that lets you map noise.

Termed NoiseTube, the app uses the GPS and microphone in smartphones to gather data and create collaborative noise maps which can be far more detailed than official versions.

The app, developed by researchers at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium, allows everyone who downloads it the ability to measure the amount of noise they are exposed to by transforming their smartphone into a sound-level meter.

“The app is very simple to use on purpose. We wanted everyone to be able to use it, even if they were not tech savvy,” said Ellie D’Hondt of the NoiseTube project.

“We see this as a tool that empowers communities to take control and monitor their own noise levels,” D’Hondt noted.

Noise pollution in cities is bad for health, according to the World Health Organisation.

Exposure to sound levels at night could significantly damage health, leading to cardiovascular diseases, sleep disturbance and stress, it noted.

Once launched, the app shows decibel levels in green or red depending on the level of noise.

That information is then sent to the NoiseTube server via the internet where a detailed ‘noise map’ is produced and then made available to the user.

You can download the free app if you have an iOS-, Android- or Java ME-based smartphone with GPS.

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