SoundPrint

Crowdsource quiet eateries and bars where you can hear your conversations with an app dubbed the “Quiet Yelp”

Dakota Kim  – February 27, 2020 | Updated February 28, 2020

Gregory Scott was struggling to hear his date at a loud restaurant, pretending to understand as he nodded at a conversation he couldn’t really hear. As someone with hearing loss, his ears suffered every time he went out to noisy bars and restaurants, and so did his dating life.

Scott had an idea: what if he started using a smartphone decibel meter to measure restaurants? Googling “quiet restaurants” had done nothing for him, since those restaurants often proved to be blasting with music when he arrived with a date. Scott starting keeping a log of quieter spots in his phone notes, and friends began noticing, which led him to create SoundPrint, an app that’s been dubbed “The Yelp for Quiet Restaurants.”

So how does SoundPrint work? Users open up the app and use the calibrated smartphone decibel meter to measure the noise level, which is logged into the SoundPrint database. Users can rate the venue on a scale of one to ten, search for businesses, and submit public reviews, just like on Yelp. The app also recently added the ability to send feedback to the venue’s managers about the noise level, along with suggestions of optimal acoustic design and how to protect the hearing health of venue employees.

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“SoundPrint now…links venue managers with acoustic experts who can help them optimize their venue’s noise levels and overall atmosphere,” Scott says.

Databases are organized by city, which leads to “quiet lists” for various cities (in the West so far, that includes Las Vegas, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle). The app is working on producing a national list and an international list.

More than 100,000 venues have been logged, but SoundPrint depends upon crowdsourcing, so the more users who submit, the better the app is, meaning SoundPrint is actively seeking ambassadors to help spread the word about hearing health. It’s also seeking submissions of quiet venues for its lists, with the definition of quiet being 70 dBA or less.

SoundPrint is a member of the World Health Organization’s inaugural World Hearing Forum, whose mission is to raise awareness of hearing health and hearing loss prevention worldwide. But the app has proven helpful not only for hearing-impaired folks, but also for the vision-impaired and autism communities. Gregory says it has brought joy and connection back to his life.

“No longer am I just sitting at a restaurant table unable to participate; rather I am engaged in the conversation and able to connect with companions,” Gregory says.

SoundPrint is available for download on Android and iPhone.

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