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VIRTUAL NOISE WALL FOR WORKSPACE COLLABORATION

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000248272D
Publication Date: 2016-Nov-14
Document File: 6 page(s) / 228K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Related People

Pascal Thubert: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Described herein is a virtual soundproof wall that is integrated with an audio conference system. The wall is created by distributed synchronized microphones and speakers that are capable, as a system, of dampening low-frequency sounds. Voice recognition enables calls from natural interpersonal exchanges, such as shouting a person's name.

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Page 01 of 6

VIRTUAL NOISE WALL FOR WORKSPACE COLLABORATION

AUTHORS:

Pascal Thubert
Chuck Byers

CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.

ABSTRACT

    Described herein is a virtual soundproof wall that is integrated with an audio conference system. The wall is created by distributed synchronized microphones and speakers that are capable, as a system, of dampening low-frequency sounds. Voice recognition enables calls from natural interpersonal exchanges, such as shouting a person's name.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

     Indoor work spaces are becoming more technologically sophisticated. Various carpet space, connected ceiling, and smart office initiatives have transformed previously "dumb" elements of office decor into "smart" (e.g., cloud-connected/Internet-enabled) objects.

    As the digitization of the work space increases, work environments and collaboration can suffer. In open office floor plans, noise is often a problem. "Audio quiet rooms" are provided along the perimeter of the work area for quiet thought or to isolate the noise from phone calls or small group conversations.

    However, the number of audio privacy rooms is often insufficient to meet the demand, especially if employees "squat" in the audio privacy rooms. Furthermore, it is difficult to hold a conversation with more than approximately four people in standard- sized audio privacy rooms.

    A method of virtually creating as many audio privacy rooms as required, and to allow them to accommodate any group size, would be helpful.

Copyright 2016 Cisco Systems, Inc.

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Bridging Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Private Communications

    This system uses noise cancelling techniques and audio conference bridges to produce virtual sound walls, and to connect "speak-out-loud" conferences throughout an open floor plan work space. Each occupant of the space wears specialized noise- cancelling headphones. Internet of Things (IoT)/smart office sensors track the position and orientation of the headphones on each user. Microphones on the headphones and also located throughout the environment precisely map the local sound fields, and signal processing algorithms calculate anti-noise to play into both ears of every user's headphones to cancel out any ambient noise. Using this capability, all users hear virtual silence in their environment, regardless of the ambient noise levels.

    The "blank canvas" of fully quiet sonic environments can be modified based upon a user's desire to collaborate with others in the space (or located in other similar spaces worldwide). If one wishes to have a conversation with someone in an adjacent work position, the system may create a sonic connection between the two spaces. This is similar in function to opening a window in a soundproof wall between two cubicles.

    The selection of which sonic paths to open may be based upon voice commands, gestures picked up by overhead security cameras, or a graphical user interface on an office computer or smartphone. For example, User 1 may say, "Talk to User 2," or...