An Innovative Acoustical System for Canceling Indoor Noise
About this project
Whisper Noise Canceler (short for WNC) is an acoustical system to reduce external noise in an indoor space. It consists of an outdoor device (Outdoor Unit) that is mounted outside on a wall, door or window and an indoor device (Indoor Unit) that is placed indoors.
The outdoor device detects the external noise, while the indoor device emits anti-phase sound waves to overlay and counterbalance noise waves for the purpose of noise reduction.
Exposure to noise is harmful to our health. It may cause insomnia, neurasthenia or other chronic illnesses.High frequency noise may damage our hearing. Infrasonic waves may disturb the middle ear function resulting in loss of balance, depression, and dizziness.
Common noise-reducing headphones with single chip solutions only deal with the low-frequency noise below 1,000Hz, while human hearing ranges from 20Hz to 14,000Hz, and even up to 20,000Hz for children.
Surveys show that the majority of people are reluctant to wear headphones, earphones, or earplugs for a long time to avoid noise pollution. People prefer living spaces without noise and are interested in reducing high frequency noise, infrasonic waves and sometimes medium frequency voices from the background.
To solve the above problems, we designed and developed the Whisper Noise Canceler,which is capable of protecting hearing and improving living and sleeping environments by reducing noise in your room.
Protect hearing by wide frequency noise reducing.
Wireless HI-FI playback via Bluetooth.
The Whisper Noise Canceler (WNC) has two wide band reproducers (20 Hz~20kHz, reproducer gain>65dB, output power 8W/each) that make it qualified for HI-FI audio playback via Bluetooth.
Wireless Working with Solar power & Bidirectional Wireless Charging.
Durable shell with integrated touch switch. No mechanical moving parts.
The Van der Waals Force Suckers
The WNC can be attached on relatively coarse surfaces such as frosted glass or smooth wooden walls using the included Van der Waals force suckers. When the WNC is placed on rough and unstable surfaces such as painted surfaces or cement mortar, you must use screws to secure the unit.
Using a safety rope & max indoor space of 60㎡ is recommended
When the outdoor unit is installed over 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) above the ground, a safety rope must be used following the instructions to prevent the WNC from falling down to hurt people or damage property.
A maximum indoor space of 60㎡ is recommended based on a maximum output power of 16W.
Taking into account that the reproducer sound field is conical, it is recommended that a minimum distance of 30cm/11.8in between human ears and the indoor unit for the best results.
WNC could not work in open spaces
WNC requires a relatively closed working environment, otherwise the error microphones of the indoor unit will not be able to accurately detect if the amplitude of processed noise sound waves has been reduced, resulting in a degradation of the noise reducing effect. For instance, to open the window on the direction which the noise comes from will seriously interfere the functioning of WNC. However, to open the door on the opposite direction which the noise comes from will not significantly affect the working of WNC. The error microphones detect the refraction of the sound waves indoor. If there are not enough surfaces (such as walls, ceilings) to reflect sound waves back, e.g. one or more sides of the building are completely open, WNC will not able to work properly.
WNC could work when there are several noise sources outside coming from different directions
The noise detection perimeter(sensor azimuth) of one WNC is limited, but multiple WNCs can work together to reduce noise emitted from different directions.
WNC is adaptable in severe environments
The outdoor unit is designed to be protected from multiple climates and environments. The shell has been sealed. However, after prolonged use in highly severe environments (e.g. immersed in the water for long) the WNC may not function fully or short circuit. Moreover, the capacity and the power output of the lithium ion battery and the solar panel may weaken at low temperature (lower than -10°C/14°F).
*The above is the prototype of Whisper Noise Canceler. The components, structure and appearance of final products will be improved and upgraded.
Whisper uses anti-phase sound waves to overlay and counterbalance noise waves.
Whisper Noise Canceler is designed and developed by Noxcel Limited in New Zealand. The production is managed by Whython Science Limited，a subsidiary of Noxcel in Hong Kong. The final assembly will take place in ZheJiang, China.
We are an innovative team focusing on developing new technology and designing innovative products to improve people’s life.
Our team comes from different backgrounds experienced in design of industrial flow micro-reactor array, ultrasonic sonar systems, etc. After two years of Noise Canceling research we have started this project – Whisper Noise Canceler.
We have completed all parts of the industrial design and circuit design. We have also completed a prototype production and a series of experiments for testing. Now we are on Kickstarter in order to help us produce the first batch of 2000. WNC is more than just an innovative device we produce. This is our opportunity to help you and your loved ones live better, healthier lives. With your support, we can do that, and more.
Please note that we here use a 1.48 exchange ratio from USD to NZD.
Q1-1: What are the most crucial difficulties of developing Whisper Noise Canceler?
A1-1: The performance of noise-reducing depends on the accuracy of ∆θ, which indicates the value of the phase deviation of anti-phase waves from the noise waves. While the sound frequency increases (the wavelength decreases), faster processing speed and shorter transfer delay of signal is requested for maintaining the pre-set phase accuracy.
The maximum of noise frequency that traditional ANC circuits/electronic modules could deal with is up to 8 kHz. On Whisper we adopt our innovative algorithm to break that limitation.
Moreover, wide frequency noise-reducing means that the bandwidth of signal transfer & processing is required to be increased manyfold, which is impossible for the existing single chip solutions. And this is the reason why common noise-reducing products could only deal with the low frequency noise on frequency below 1 kHz. Our solution increases it and covers almost full-band of hearing frequency.
Q1-2: Is it possible for the backers to get Whisper Noise Canceler earlier?
A1-2: The estimated delivery date on the page is based on conservative estimation. We may delivery the products up to 3 months earlier than the announced date (the possibility of earlier delivery decreases if the orders go to a large number). The final delivery date depends on the total amount of orders.
Q1-3: What are the prices based on?
A1-3: Prices are basically equal to the cost and based in USD. On Kickstarter the prices in NZD are subject to the exchange ratio 1:1.48 (the mean value of the last six months), which is applied for reducing the loss caused by exchange rates fluctuations. We also provide a pathway on Indiegogo (available on August) which prices are in USD in case the Forex fluctuates sharply.
Q1-4: Why does the WNC project need USD530,000 before starting?
A1-4: As part of any project like this,WNC is facing up front risks of setting up a production line for this new innovative product. We have estimated a budget which allocates the costs of development for a new production line of WNC units, that is USD530,000 for each batch (see cost estimates for further details), Thus, we decided to focus on a minimum of USD530,000 before starting the WNC project to secure the cash flow for production.
Q1-5: Why is the price of Whisper higher than common Noise-reducing products?
A1-5: Whisper uses an Advanced Chip-set solution that we design and develop for covering almost full-band hearing frequency, instead of using existing single chip solutions which could only deal with the low-frequency noise. The performance is worthy.
Q2-1: What is a pilot product?
A2-1: The pilot product is the first small batch of products, manufactured for verifying the reliability of the production processes. The functions, parts and materials of pilot products are same as the mature WNC products for sale. More mature versions may slightly improve some design details in order to simplify and lower the costs of the production stream. In general, the second round mature products will have a more reliable quality; the exterior appearance and the packaging will be more meticulous; the technical manual will be more detailed. However, the pilot products come 3~5 months earlier than mature products, with a lower price.
Q2-2: What do “Phase I, II” and “Premier Edition” mean?
A2-2: WNC has been designed with two generations of products, Phase I and Phase II. Both are committed to keeping the room quiet and comfortable. They are compatible with each other and could work together, but the technology works according to completely different principles. Phase II is technically more complicated and is more expensive than Phase I. It is mainly used in commercial, scientific or medical environments. Upon completion of the patents registration, we will announce the release of relevant principles and technical details. The producing of Phase II has not been scheduled yet. Generally, Phase I is able to meet most of the needs of normal use. Premier Edition is the highest-ranking product of WNC Phase I, equipped with highest standard reproducers and chips which we can produce so far. This version has achieved noise canceling on almost a full band of human hearing frequencies. “Premier Edition”is an identification mark that distinguishes itself from the follow-up Lite-version.
Q3-1: What kind of noise level environment can the WNC work in?
A3-1: The WNC has two reproducers, each with maximum 8W power output to encounter most of the outdoor noise types. WNC is capable to reduce typical noise of less than 110 decibel (dB) to 45 dB or less (with single glazed windows, factors may depend on the room and the actual situation), enough to cover the noise of an everyday life environment. For strong noise in particular circumstances such as mines, factories, etc., we may launch a high output power version in the future.
Q3-2: Can WNC cancel external noise while playing music?
A3-2: With the basic function of the WNC noise reducing will automatically work once the WNC is on. Playing Music may occupy working bandwidth of the wireless communication and DAC processing of the unit resulting in a reduction in the accuracy of the noise reduction, however, the WNC should still satisfactory work.
Q3-3: Why is there an unexpected sound when using the WNC?
A3-3: The most likely reason is that the Bluetooth is being interfered with by WIFI equipment which is located in the same room. Both WIFI and Bluetooth shares a 2.4G bandwidth. We recommended a distance of more than 1.5 meters between the WNC and any WIFI equipment when WIFI is working on 2.4G band; alternatively switch WIFI to the 5G band. An unexpected sound may be caused by the outdoor unit‘s noise sensing microphone short circuiting. Please check if there is water or dust in the unit.
Q3-4: Why do the indoor and the outdoor units of my WNC not charge each other? Why are they unable to pair with each other via Bluetooth?
A3-4: Make sure your indoor and outdoor units are aligned correctly and that there is no large metal membrane or metal-coated glass, which can isolate electromagnetic signals between the indoor and outdoor units and disturb the power transmission or Bluetooth signals. Check if the indoor unit and the outdoor unit are too far away from each other, or separated by too thicker walls, which may disable inductive charging. We recommend a maximum thickness of 7 cm of windows/doors/walls between units. If the installation conditions are not suitable, we recommend connecting the indoor and the outdoor unit by a USB cable in order to make them work correctly.
Risks and challenges
1.Systematic Production Management is a highly difficult challenge
Large-scale commercial production is much more difficult than the production of a prototype. To produce a prototype, we usually need CNC machine tools to create the case, we use lasers to cut steel parts, electronic modules to simulate integrated circuits, etc.; while industrial production does not use such simplified but expensive methods as common used in prototype production.
There are a total of 40 different kinds of WNC components, including 76 smaller items. It involves more than 20 different suppliers and 4 subcontracted industries. It needs processes from die sinking, injection molds, steel stamping molds, circuit board printing, assembly lines debugging and other major processes.
Beside a perfect production design and manufacturing plan, a professional team for production management and capable upstream collaborating enterprises are required for Systemic production management.
To this end, we set up a subsidiary company in China, responsible for production management, and place the manufacture in the Yangtze River Delta region taking advantage of developed electronic industry. Part of the profit has been utilized to choose the most capable and reputable suppliers and experienced OEM enterprises.
2.The Control of Production Capacity and Quality
One risk of innovative products manufacturing is the insufficient production capacity available. It costs time for the manufacturer to be familiar with new designs, assembling technique and parts supply (especially new technology parts).
Our solution is to offer products in batches, each batch being a fixed amount of typically 2000~4000 units, and to apply a price-consumption strategy to control the total amount produced. Each batch has an interval of two months; each batch set a spread of 0.5% (equivalent to bank lending rates over the same period); the price decreases until the production capacity meets the requirements. In this way, the price would balance consumer’s aspirations, that enables enterprises to get a better grasp of the total amount of each stage of the order and to control capacity growth rhythm.
Another risk is quality control. The new technology in the production process will inevitably encounter low yields. The quality control system is never perfect and the people sometimes have insufficient experience with the problems occurring.
Our solution is to use high-quality parts, and in 3-6 months before mass production produce 2-3 batches of pilot products to evaluate and improve production technique and processes. Qualified pilot products will be delivered to our customers for final evaluation. After eliminating any defect of the technology and production process, we start the formal commercial production.
3.Supply Chain Management is the core of risk control in the electronics industry
Some crucial parts of the WNC Phase I have no equal alternative target. The technology target of similar products is always slightly lower than the requirements. For example, there are few manufacturers who supply wide band analogue-digital converter chips (ADC), which is a critical part of WNC. For an order of small start-ups, we cannot guarantee to achieve stable supply from a major supplier. Moreover, these kinds of high-density ICs sometimes undergo the affects of a trade restriction. In the event of insufficient supply or force majeure, we would face the risk of re-development or a delayed production.
The risk of re-development means a new technical plan must be designed and developed when crucial components – such as a chip- are out of stock for a long period, or when the specifications of crucial components are changed by manufacturers.In extreme cases, even if a very small change takes place in the chips, we have to redesign the whole electrical circuit and the circuit board needs to be printed again. Sometimes even the product design and production process have to be relocated, and the product parameters changes consequently.
Our production management team is familiar with applied technology and electronic industry, and experienced in the supply chain management. The team is qualified enough to respond to this kind of extreme circumstance.
WNC applies 5 different high density ICs and we assessed two of them facing unstable supply risks. So we framed a counter plan including a complete set of technical and production programs. After a financially cautious budget, in which we also allocated the costs of re-development and production process adjustment if necessary, the production cost for each batch comes to $530,000.Therefore we set up a minimum of $530,000 to start the project so as to secure the cash flow for production.
The base patent of Active Noise Canceling(ANC)appears to be comparatively early and had passed the patent protection period. Although there is still a complex derived patents system of ANC, WNC is based on the technology of our de novo research and development, which does not involve other patents. Meanwhile, related patents of WNC Phase II are under registration. Upon completion of the patents registration, we will release relevant principles and technical details.