Microsoft's ultra-quiet anechoic chamber, established in 2015, assists audio technology research, though visitors can stay for just 55 minutes due to the extreme silence. It's crucial for measuring Xbox and Surface device performance.
Inside Quietest Place On Earth Where No One Has Lasted Longer Than 55 Minutes
Yes, life is busy. It can also be rather noisy, so occasionally having some peace and quiet is definitely beneficial.
You would think so, yet entry into the world's quietest site has left visitors feeling so anxious that they have all left in less than an hour.
The quietest spot on Earth was constructed by Microsoft in 2015 after a two-year design process.
The anechoic chamber, named after its literal meaning of "free from echo," is housed at Microsoft's Redmond, Washington headquarters.
While it may seem like a wonderful spot to practice yoga or a respite for those of us with noisy neighbors, not many people can endure the silence for very long.
You may also experience ringing in your ears due to the total quietness of the space.
More In Science and Technology
“The longest continuous time anyone has spent inside the chamber is about 55 minutes,” Hundraj Gopal at Microsoft told CNN.
The body starts to adjust to being silent, according to Steve Orfield, who also operates an anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota, who told The Daily Mail: "You'll hear your heart beating, sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly. In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound."
Additionally, it becomes difficult to even move around because there are no outside sounds.
"If you're in there for half an hour, you have to be in a chair," he added.
NASA astronauts begin their space training in a water tank because the lack of sensation in thin air can cause the body to experience hallucinations, which can be extremely debilitating at times.
Gopal Gopal, a principal human factors engineer at Microsoft, shows visitors inside their chamber in a video posted to their YouTube channel.
The operation of the 80Hz anechoic box is described by the speech and hearing scientist.
Six levels of steel and concrete make up the isolated chamber, which is designed to keep noise from the outside world out.
It also holds the title of World's Quietest Place according to Guinness, with noise levels 20 dB lower than audible to humans.
The walls, floor, and ceiling are covered in fiberglass wedges that absorb sound waves before they have a chance to rebound back into the chamber.
The wedges not only have a future sci-fi movie set piece appearance, but they also absorb 99.999 percent of the sound entering the chamber. Higher frequencies are "fully absorbed," whereas lower frequencies are "trapped" farther back.
Additionally, the chamber rests on top of springs that reduce vibration.
Gopal stands on steel cables rather than a floor. His voice sounds normal while he speaks directly to the camera, but astonishingly, as he moves about the room, his voice becomes quieter.
Gopal explains to the audience in another astounding moment how the chamber blocks outside sound by opening a door.
An engineer working in another room can be heard loudly playing heavy metal music while the door is open. After the door closes, all of the noise—or audio art, for metal fans—is eliminated inside the room.
The chamber is incredibly useful for the research and development of new audio technology.
Gopal explains: “From measuring Xbox’s console fan noise for example, or the components in a surface - some of the components make sounds - very low level - but they are they, we measure them in this clean environment which is the purest form of recording without being interference from the walls or from the outside.”
“So, we better our products for audio performance. Anything to do with audio where we have microphones, loudspeakers to measure distortion, or for surface products, our consoles - these types of chambers become extremely important for us.”