Is that a sound I see?
By David Kolman
The advance of technology never ceases to amaze me. I just learned that engineers can now see sound. You heard me correctly.
Ford is using a new technology that allows engineers to actually see unwanted sounds and eliminate them during vehicle development. The company wants to further ensure that its new vehicles have the quietest interior cabins. Ford is the first automaker in North America to use the new Noise Vision tool – a small sphere equipped with more than 30 highly sensitive microphones and 12 special cameras that is placed inside the vehicle cabin.
Powerful software reads data from Noise Vision and creates a computerized image showing interior noise “hot spots,” including wind noise, a squeak or rattle or unwanted feedback from the engine or the road.
Vehicle engineers will tell you the key element to interior quietness is to pinpoint the source and location of every unwanted sound. Like other car OEMs, Ford had used a process of elimination to make a vehicle quieter. Now, the Noise Vision tool literally shows engineers where the noise is and allows them to eliminate it, once and for all.
I’ve no doubt Noise Vision type tools will find their way to the truck manufacturers. Most innovations on the automotive side usually do.
Personally, I think truck engineers have been dong a very good job of making big rigs quieter through the trial-and-error technique. Today’s trucks are considerably tighter and quieter than the trucks I drove way back in the late 1970s.
I wonder what technology has in store for us next?