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City streets are full of noise, but what if we could visualize that? Sorama – an Eindhoven-based company in the Netherlands which is working on acoustic visualization technology – created a spectral zebra crossing where people can interact with sound. 

The project is part of the GLOW festival – Eindhoven’s light event that is taking place from the 6th to the 13th of November – and lets people visualize the sound that they make.  

Sorama is developing technologies to improve how sound performs. It targets industry, maintenance and smart city applications as its smart cameras are able to detect where sound is coming from.  

“We wanted to make sound visible to people and we thought it could be cool to do that through a spectral zebra crossing. People can see it in combination with lights, and there’s no better opportunity than during GLOW to do that”, says Bart Vaes, marketing & sales team lead for Sorama.  

Interacting with sound 

The Sorama’s acoustic camera points at the zebra crossing from one side of the street. It is connected to a laser projector – which is provided by Sahara Benelux – that has the crosswalk as its projection filter.  

Pedestrians can visualize the sound in three different ways. A decibel meter shows how loud the sound is while moving up and down on the zebra crossing. The equalizer displays how high or low the tone is. The third visualization is called ‘move your sound’, as noise follows visitors when they walk over the zebra crossing.  

“The system has 64 acoustic micro-cameras that can ‘listen’ to the environment. They are capable of telling exactly how much sound there is and where”, Vaes adds.

Raising awareness on noise pollution  

Sorama received a lot of positive feedback for its set-up because it enables interaction with both light and sound, but there is more to it than that.  

The European Environment Agency calculated that long-term exposure to noise leads to 12,000 premature deaths in the continent. In this respect, the project also aims to raise awareness about sound pollution.  

Vaes: “Kids and adults like it a lot because they get to scream as loud as they can. However, we want to raise awareness about noise and its impact. It can have a negative impact on your health. This way, people can see how noise can be visualized and think about the impact it can have on their own daily life.”

The set-up is located on Achsteweg Zuid 153H, Eindhoven and can be visited every day from 6:30 pm until Sunday.  

Find out more about Sorama here


This story is the result of a collaboration between Eindhoven University of Technology and our editorial team. Innovation Origins is an independent journalism platform that carefully chooses its partners and only cooperates with companies and institutions that share our mission: spreading the story of innovation. This way we can offer our readers valuable stories that are created according to journalistic guidelines. Want to know more about how Innovation Origins works with other companies? Click here