Tetra Tech High Performance Buildings Group simulates building acoustics with innovative Apple iOS app

Published 25-03-22

Proposed by TetraTech

High Performance Buildings

Tetra Tech’s High Performance Building Acoustics team received Tetra Tech’s 2021 Excellence and Achievement Award for Technical Achievement for developing an iOS app that assists customers by simulating the sound of a room depending on various physical parameters and noise types.

Acoustics team members Arif Zaher, Tim Beresford, Jack Wong, and Jeffery Chen developed the AiHear® application, which can simulate internal or external noise inputs such as footsteps, road traffic, aircraft, and noise sources. stationary such as people chatting or building service equipment in sounds and graphics that users can experience and manipulate in real time. To use the app, users put on headphones and experience what a physical space will look like by listening to precise audio samples while viewing corresponding augmented reality graphics. Users can then adjust various spatial and architectural acoustic parameters and hear the applied processing difference in real time. For example, after hearing simulated sounds from adjacent floors of a building, clients may request additional architectural acoustic treatment in the form of acoustic ceiling barriers to be installed to attenuate noise.

AiHear enables real-time connection of multiple devices of different users in the same virtual world for group meeting and can simulate how various sounds reverberate through different surface finishes or sound muffled through different wall constructions and barriers, floors or facades. The app has been designed to use calibrated headphones and will accurately reproduce user-defined acoustic simulations. Users can create, save and modify various augmented or virtual reality settings of potential and existing parts in real time.

Journal of Environmental Affairs recognized the AiHear team with a Technology Merit Award 2021 for Acoustic Engineering for their innovative approach in using this technology to aid acoustic engineering.

Make expert acoustic advice accessible with AiHear

Using this app is significantly faster than traditional presentations, which typically use amplified speakers in a dedicated listening room setup or virtual reality headsets. It also offers potential cost savings and mitigates potential rework during the construction process. The Tetra Tech High Performance Buildings Group is the first in the industry to bring this innovative and cost-effective technology to its customers.

The app makes acoustic advice accessible even to novice users, allowing them to easily discover and quickly manipulate alternative configurations and finishes for different rooms. This simplifies and reduces consultation time while supporting informed decisions. The tool can provide guidance to customers on appropriate acoustic criteria and inform their decision-making process, again reducing the time and risk involved in making costly decisions.

Support beneficial project outcomes in real time

A hotel client recently used AiHear to determine the need for an acoustic ceiling in a mechanical room. During the design process, the acoustic engineering team and the client had undertaken several meetings and discussions spanning about a month to decide if the ceiling was necessary. It was only when the client was able to experience the sound virtually in the guest bedroom above the engine room that he decided to opt for an acoustic ceiling.

The application helps clients clarify the outcome of potential changes before construction, assists in the selection of appropriate materials, and provides potential savings in terms of proposed solutions and potential rework in the design and construction phases. Clients who have used AiHear have reported a positive reaction to the tool and its application on their projects.

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