Sound of silence: "Quiet Curtains" combine audio privacy and aesthetics for,,nursing homes, hospitals, hotels and offices

It's curtains for noisemakers with new high tech drapes that block unwanted decibels.

Dr. Krishan Ahuja, Regents researcher and head of the acoustics and aerodynamics branch in the Georgia Tech Research Institute's (GTRI) Aerospace & Transportation Laboratory, has designed a unique modular system of curtains that blends aesthetics with audio privacy.

The invention, appropriately dubbed "Quiet Curtains," stems from an effort to battle nocturnal noise in nursing homes. Typically, two types of noise disrupt patients: (1) sound from inside their rooms, such as a roommate snoring or listening to a loud television program, and (2) sound generated from the outside, such as carts rolling down the hall.

Ahuja's idea: transform the curtains that hang around a patient's bed into a product that not only provides visual privacy, but also acts as an acoustical shield.

To accomplish that, sheets of noise shielding material were sandwiched between two pieces of fabric and supported by a unique pocket system. A variety of materials can be used for the noise shields -- ranging from cardboard to metal. "It depends on how much noise you want to reduce," explained Ahuja, who is also a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Aerospace Engineering.

Aided by two Georgia Tech undergraduate students, Jessica Shearer, a physics major, and Mary Lynn Rivamonte, an aerospace engineering major, Ahuja conducted extensive testing to determine the noise reduction capabilities of various insert materials and exterior fabric. Besides analyzing acoustical properties, the researchers looked for such qualities as durability, fire retention and strength. Finally, they selected a plastic material to use as noise shielding material for the Quiet Curtains nursing home prototype.

In benchmark studies, the prototype reduced noise by about 7 decibels (dB). What's more, by adding a floor extension and valance, noise dropped approximat

Contact: John Toon
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News

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