Inside Audio Analytic’s silent labs, work goes on
The Sabine lab was only installed at the end of last year, but Audio Analytic’s fully anechoic chamber, which absorbs reflections of sound and prevents external waves entering the room, is up and running - and can be controlled remotely.
Likened to a “green screen for sound”, researchers can add sound environments to the chamber to mimic everyday locations like a family living room or an external porch to assess sound performance.
The company’s anechoic lab, based at its Sound Labs in Cambridge, has an internal space of 12 cubic metres and has a large semi-anechoic lab of 215 cubic metres, allowing researchers to explore sound recognition in complete silence.
The data from the labs can be collected remotely.
Frazer Smith, head of quality assurance at Audio Analytic, said: “Just because we’re in lockdown doesn’t mean our research has to stop. Even from Peterborough I’m able to use our labs in Cambridge.
“Our vision, to build AI-enabled sound recognition technology that gives consumer electronics like smart devices and headphones a sense of hearing beyond speech and music, has not been put on hold.”
The testing equipment features class-leading playback speakers, high quality microphones and customer devices. It can be controlled and monitored from anywhere and results sent back to the researchers in real-time.
The yellow constructions on the floor are a sort of support.
“As the floor of the lab is just a wire mesh above foam wedges so as not to impact the acoustics, it can’t hold the weight of test equipment and keep them stable,” explains a spokesperson. “The yellow bits are extensions from the real floor to hold test equipment in various configurations up to very heavy weights.”
Dr Chris Mitchell, CEO of Audio Analytic, said the company is also working hard on maintaining its culture.
“With the entire company working remotely, we’ve been presented with expected and completely unexpected challenges,” he said.
“For me, it’s business as unusual. As well as using our lab remotely, we’re encouraging over-communication with tools like Slack and Zoom. Whether it’s sharing memes on Slack, hosting Zoom coffee breaks or even posting in WFH
- working from home - Cribs, our own take on MTV Cribs, it’s important to keep our culture thriving despite the distance.”