SOFTWARE SOLUTION

A professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver has developed a software program that can help school designers predict how well a teacher's voice can be heard in different parts of a classroom.

Murray Hodgson, a professor of occupational and environmental hygiene and director of the university's Acoustics and Noise Research Group, says the program, which he calls ClassTalk, allows architects, engineers and acoustical consultants to “design the noise out of classrooms.”

The software allows users to “walk through” the classroom by moving a “receiver” icon across a computer monitor.

At each position in the classroom, the program calculates and displays measurements in five areas — speech intelligibility, speech-transmission index, signal-to-noise level difference, speech level and background-noise level.

At any point, the classroom data can be altered to change room characteristics or introduce sound-control measures.

Hodgson and his associates also are working on a virtual-reality feature that would allow users to walk through the virtual classroom while listening to a teacher talking.

More information on the software is available at www.soeh.ubc.ca/hodgson_research/classtalk.htm.

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