About this project
Would you like to know how loud it is at an apartment or house before you rent it or buy it! Traffic noise? Airplane noise? Bars, schools, fire stations,...?
Would you like to know how loud your house is compared to the rest of the neighborhood?
HowLoud has built a sound map for Los Angeles to provide user-friendly answers to these questions. With $38,000 we will extend our map throughout the United States and Canada!
By next year HowLoud will be widely used across the United States and Canada. Kickstarter backers are the first to know and use HowLoud, and can choose to receive a map of Soundscores for a major city with "Kickstarter Early Backer" in the top corner. We often hear, "It's like google maps for noise!" Imagine having a poster in your office of the first google map with "Kickstarter Early Backer written on it. Here's an example map, which has been featured in Gizmodo, Curbed and a number of other magazines:
Our product has gotten great reviews:
NPR KPCC AirTalk: http://bit.ly/1D3Un59
Eight11 (Real Estate Technology Blog): http://eight11.com/howloud/
Curbed LA: http://bit.ly/1HQpwyt
LA Weekly: http://bit.ly/1glzhKX
CBS Los Angeles: http://bitly.com/1Kstazn
Here's a more technical description of the product and the project:
Noise studies today are commissioned by local government agencies and conducted by traditional engineering firms. The results are stuck in reports in file cabinets and never reach the people who could use them. Imagine if the weather report were kept at a county office and available only on request!
HowLoud is the 21st century noise information source: accurate, massive scale, available to everyone and delivered on demand. Like traditional acoustics engineering companies, we do not use thousands or millions of microphones. Rather, we build a model and determine the sound profile created by the sources, such as vehicle flow with certain speed and volume, a certain type of plane flying overhead, or a stadium with thousands of cheering fans. We then use physics to propagate the noise through the environment. The noise is attenuated as it travels, is reflected off obstacles and has its frequency profile changed. Our model incorporates all these effects and gives the noise level in decibels.
The human ear, however, cares about more than just the average decibel level. Time matters: noise in the night is worse than noise during the day. And intensity matters: a low-flying jet is worse than a light steady hum. We incorporate time and intensity factors into an aggregate score that allows users to compare locations. A low score (below 40) means a location is very loud, and a very high score (above 90) means a location is very quiet. We expect users to look at several locations that they know well and find that our scores match their judgment.
Version 1.0 of our map is ready for Los Angeles and Orange Counties in California. Here's a sample screenshot of our data display:
Below is a screenshot of a sample report. The report has a local contour map and a histogram of the Soundscores for all the houses in the neighborhood so that you can compare the house to the rest of the neighborhood.
To try the site, go to
and then enter a residential address in LA or Orange County. For example "3209 Descanso Dr., Los Angeles, CA, 90039", but not "Hollywood Hills". The money we raise on Kickstarter will allow us to extend our results to all of the United States and Canada.
The map currently does not show noise estimates for specific sides and floors of large buildings, but we can already do this and will incorporate this specific data soon. We submitted a patent application for our system in March 2015.
Risks and challenges
We've already built the first version of our sound map for the Los Angeles area: it covers over 4 million buildings! Please go to www.howloud.net and look up a residential homes in Los Angeles or Orange Counties.
We've shown that we can build this for one of the largest urban regions in the US. Now we just need to extend it to the rest of North America--and of course continue to add features and improve it.
The challenges ahead entail building a number of maps that have not yet been created at large scale or are not currently available for other applications. One example is determining traffic flow for heavy trucks, instead of simply all vehicle traffic together. Mapping frequent helicopter routes is another. Determining which bars and restaurants or sports stadiums are loud and when they are loud will be another challenge.
A scientific challenge that we will address is the effects of weather and climate conditions, such as humidity, fog, wind and rain, or whether the trees have their leaves or do not. All of these affect noise propagation, and our work will incorporate these effects.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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