Silentium: An Israeli Start-Up Silences Noise
08/12/2013 - 09:08
Rabbi Jason Miller
Yossi Barath
Yossi Barath

Like me, you have probably never heard of Israeli tech company Silentium before. But that will soon change. This company aims to fix something that many people didn’t even realize was a problem: background noise. We often find ourselves talking loudly to someone standing right in front of us because we have become so used to the background noises of machines and electronics.

When we think we’re enjoying a moment of silence, we are actually listening to the constant noise of computers and fluorescent lights, HVAC systems and traffic.

We live in a very noisy world, but we’ve gotten used to it. Silentium’s solution is to produce an opposing signal at the same amplitude.

Yossi Barath, the serial entrepreneur from Herzeliya who founded Silentium, is determined to remove the noise pollution so we can enjoy the sounds we want to hear – a friend’s voice, a concert or a movie. I met Barath during my annual pilgrimage to the Holy Land of the tech world, Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show, where he demonstrated Silentium’s Quiet Bubble for me.

They had me sit in a comfortable leather prototype chair that had the Quiet Bubble technology built into the headrest. At first I heard the loud noises of the crowd walking and talking around the cavernous hall like being at a crowded sporting event.

And then with the push of a button the turned on Quiet Bubble and I heard nothing – complete silence. All that noise was immediately erased. Silentium’s technology, Barath explained, creates “Zones of Quiet.”

Rather than having to wear noise cancellation headphones on a long flight, for example, the company’s active noise control solutions work without headphones. As in the chair I tried, their chips can be placed in the headrests of airplane seats – they’re currently in talks with Boeing – so that the background noise is cancelled during the duration of the flight and you need headphones only to listen to music or watch a movie.

The technology can also be used to remove the noise pollution in offices where loud computer servers are running all day, and to cancel out the noise from HVAC systems, transportation, medical equipment and noisy household appliances like washers and dryers.

Silentium collaborates with companies to figure out how to use their technology to improve their own products, but doesn’t sell their product directly to consumers.

“We develop technology that allows manufacturers to introduce premium products … while eliminating the stress, discomfort and health problems associated with exposure to noise,” Barath said.

This technology, another example of impressive Israeli innovation, allows us to silence the noises we don’t want and to focus our ears on the quality sounds we do want.

Rabbi Jason Miller, president of Access Computer Technology, is an educator, entrepreneur and blogger. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the intersection of technology and Judaism. Follow him on Twitter at @RabbiJason.

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A miracle.

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