Silence of the RAMs: How Tech Is Turning Quiet

Written by Chloe Harwood

With our growing reliance on technology, noise pollution is becoming more a problem. This can have effects on our sleep, disturb wildlife and in some cases damage our hearing when exposed for too long to a certain decibel level. Scientists and engineers have been coming up with tech to counter this and bring down our everyday noise levels. Here are just a few ways that tech is toning down the volume.

Calming computers

An office full of whirring PCs can be a noisy environment. Tech has slowly been coming in to reduce the clicking of hard-drives and buzzing of fans. In fact, there are now a number of silent PCs, some of which rely on a chassis that soundproofs the components whilst others operate a brand new ‘fanless’ system. Such tech is slowly being introduced into other computerised appliances such as video games consoles.

Hushing household tech

Our houses can be noisy environments too. Take the kitchen as a prime example, which may contain humming refrigerators and roaring washing machines and dishwashers. Fortunately, there are quieter appliances being made available through sound insulation and special wash rhythms. In fact there are some washing machines with the Quiet Mark approval that can operate at lower than 50 decibels allowing you to put a load on at night without disturbing the house.

Meanwhile, for those that get kept awake by ticking clocks, you can still buy an analogue clock but get rid of the ticking by buying one with an oscillator fitted. These eliminate the tick allowing you to sleep more easily.

There are even low noise vacuum cleaners and hairdryers out there capable of cutting the volume by 20 decibels to the equivalent of a telephone dial tone.

Motor cars on mute

The maximum noise level that a car is allowed to produce was legally cut from 96 to 90 decibels in 1983. Since then, manufacturers have been trying to see how quiet they can make our road cars, with some road cars such as the BMW 730d Blue Performance only reaching 58 decibels at 100 km/h. Electric cars meanwhile have been able to pretty much cut out engine noise altogether  -although the tyres and wind obviously still make noise.

Could jet airplanes ever be silent?

NASA have recently made the bold claim of hoping to produce a silent jet aircraft. In fact they reckon they could have a jet plane by 2020 producing a sonic boom of only 65 DB. This is the equivalent of a car door slamming and quite a grand step compared to the 106 decibel sonic boom of concord. Of course, it will probably be a while before jet engines on a commercial level can afford to adopt this tech. However, such an advancement could eventually transform life for those residing around airports where the higher decibel exposure has been linked to a greater instance in heart attacks.

About the author

Chloe Harwood