Capturing Detailed Sound Profiles Using a Mobile Phone

Grant Type: 

  • Network Innovation


Award Date: 

January 2009


$5,000 for 12 months

Drs. Nithya Ramanathan and Scott Fruin worked under this Collaborative Initiatives Fund grant to develop cell phone technology that can accurately capture and measure noise levels. This collaboration addressed the problem of environmental noise as an underappreciated hazard. Environmental noise has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks. However, nearly all associated health studies have been conducted using only estimates of noise exposure from either outdoor measurements, computer modeling, or self-reporting. None of these are particularly accurate means of estimating true noise exposure, especially since a greater proportion of most people's time is spent indoors. With the technology being developed by Nithya and Scott, there is potential to make true noise exposure measurements with large numbers of subjects using cell phone technology.  Currently, a cell phone application developed by these Fellows is in the pilot phase while refinements continue to be made so that the cell phones will be able to upload data to a server in real time for analysis.  Ultimately, Drs. Ramanathan and Fruin plan to raise money to give these cell phones with noise monitors to children as part of an ongoing study of Dr. Fruin's at USC.  

Scott Fruin has extensive experience in measuring air pollution in both mobile settings and on foot. He directs the validation in the laboratory and in the field. Nithya Ramanathan, currently a Research Faculty at UCLA's Computer Science Department and co-founder of Nexleaf Analytics, is writing the mobile phone and back-end server software.  Drs. Fruin and Ramanathan are also collaborating  on a separate project to monitor black carbon pollutant concentrations in the air.

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