WideNoise: Monitor Noise Levels on Your iPhone

We’ve been writing a lot about Internet of Things this year. It’s when everyday objects become connected to the Internet – taking us beyond the Social Web where people talk to each other, into a Web where things talk to each other (and us) as well. We’ve analyzed some of the theory, and experiments from the likes of MIT, but it’s also interesting to track emerging commercial products.

The iPhone just happens to be a fertile ground for Internet of Things, as a product called WideNoise shows. WideNoise is an iPhone application that samples decibel noise levels, displaying them on an interactive map.

With the app you can take a sound reading, and if you so wish share that with the WideNoise community. You can check the average sound level of the area around you, which might be handy if you’re house-hunting or simply looking for a quiet spot to relax in.

WideNoise is essentially a sound sensor, using the iPhone’s microphone. The app uses a sound meter “to calibrate the microphone against pink noise,” defined as a form of noise similar to the sounds that our ears can pick up the best. The resulting sound readings are said to be “accurate within the device’s hardware limits” – meaning that they’re good enough for the purposes of the app, but not high accuracy.

Using WideNoise I discovered that I live in a “sleeping cat” area — although it felt more like a “rock concert area” last Friday about 2am when the neighbour had his mates around! So your mileage may vary.

WideNoise has been built on a platform called OpenSpime, a protocol based on XMPP that enables physical devices to communicate with each other. As we’ve explained in the past, XMPP is a real-time communication protocol popularized by Instant Messaging. OpenSpime is an extension of XMPP, enabling real-time communication between objects connected to the Internet.

The name OpenSpime was inspired by the term ‘spime,’ coined by Bruce Sterling, which means “an object that can be remotely tracked through space and time” (Sp – ime).

Both WideNoise and OpenSpime are the creation of the company WideTag, Inc., which looks to be building some innovative Internet of Things products. iPhone users can purchase WideNoise for US$1.99 from the Apple App Store.

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