Billboards measure decibel levels

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AEG-Electrolux has installed billboards outfitted with sensors to measure noise levels. So far, they've deployed them in London, Berlin, Madrid, Brussels, and Milan. The billboards are part of a "noise awareness" campaign that's actually a marketing effort for a new "silent" washing machine. The data is also viewable online. Link to AEG Noise Awareness Blog, Link to AEG Noise Awareness site, Link to more info and video at Laughing Squid


  1. I’m guessing that they are not going to end up in the US as they may be perceived as terrorist threats by the Boston PD.

  2. When I pass one of those things that tells me how fast I’m driving, I always speed up. Wouldn’t this make people want to honk and rev their engines? I guess Europeans aren’t quite as obstreperous as Americans.

  3. I’ve passed this every day since it was put up a couple of weeks ago. As far as I can tell it’s completely fabricated, although, I have heard that motorcyclists see it as a challenge to see how loud they can rev.

  4. I live in Shanghai. There are few decibel measuring displays around the city that also double as clocks and temperature displays. A quick Google search for “decibel meter shanghai” will bring up a Slate article from 2006 with a picture of one.

    I like to walk in front of them and yell to see how high I can make it spike. :) Admit would too!

  5. How many people know how many decibels is dangerous?
    74 – that’s pretty loud!
    74 – that’s pretty quiet!
    Who knows?

    If there were only some space on the billboard for more information.

  6. These billboards are missleading, they only display the amount of noise at the point of the measuring device. Sound level decreases as an inverse square of distance from the sound source.

  7. Was busy typing when I saw comment #6: that’s what I wanted to say too. It’s misleading, and they should stop calling this an “awareness” campaign, because it’s plain wrong. The soundlevel at “your” location on the square can be anything from rougly 20db down or up (more likely up: I guess the mesuring mic is in/on/near the billboard). You might even be in a 100dB “soundcloud” from a motorcycle just passing near you if you’re on the other end of the street and the thing might just not indicating a change.

    Being “aware” of something is UNDERSTANDING something.

    (I’m a soundengineer professionally)

  8. @gregc

    oh yeah, these seem to be really popular throughout China. I remember first seeing one in NanChang, which is relatively rural with only a few hundred thousand people.

    Now did it stop any of the incessant honking that you hear everywhere in China? Of course not, but it was a pretty neat gadget anyway.

    Coincidentally, I was thinking of this just the other day, and how someone should really incorporate a decibel meter (audiometer?) into a wrist watch.

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