I had another fascinating conversation yesterday with the always-insightful Joe Kirley, one of the pioneers of the streaming audio over WiFi field. We were talking about applications of streaming audio technology to Universities, an area of common interest since he and I had both been professors in the Boston area.
What Joe pointed out that for the huge numbers of foreign students at Universities, comprehension in the lecture hall is a problem. Of course, for most of them, English is a second language. It is also the case that many lecture halls, particularly older ones, have poor acoustics. Multiple hard surfaces cause flutter echoes and a muddy sound that negatively impacts intelligibility and comprehension for ESL (English as a Second Language) students. For these struggling students, speech clarity dramatically improves comprehension and WiFi audio is a great way to achieve this goal. The students, of course, all have their own smart phones, and compared, for instance, with the cost of acoustic room treatments in a large lecture hall, WiFi audio that rides on the existing IT infrastructure is highly affordable. Note that Inductive Loop systems are not an option since these young people generally do not have hearing aids.
By coincidence, we were testing our MX3-1 system this morning at a major university. We will write this up later, but the reasons for the test were to check our ability to run our app across multiple LANs and to also test the system in an older, weaker WiFi segment of the university’s infrastructure. The tester’s comments were, “The professor’s microphone audio sounded great.” “There didn’t seem to be any difference in audio delay between the audio in the room locally and through the app.” Of course we know that there had to have been some delay, but perception is what is critical.
Our system would clearly be of huge benefit to the ESL student reaching for comprehension and would be a way for Universities to differentiate their offering. Now we just need to get the message out.