It’s always reassuring to walk into a restaurant and see a busy flow of servers waiting on packed tables. But the downside to a popular dining destination can be the accompanying noise level. Some restaurants can be so loud it’s hard to carry on a conversation. And for those with hearing difficulties, it can be intolerable. The people behind SoundPrint, a new app, are hoping to change that.
Set to launch in May, the smartphone software allows customers to take a real-time sample of the decibel levels in a restaurant. Those readings are then crowdsourced to create a sound profile for venues, which would-be diners can then use to determine the quietest places to head out for dinner or drinks.
SoundPrint creator Gregg Scott told Vox reporter Julia Belluz that he was motivated to create the app after finding that consumer review sites didn’t do a great job of indicating which locations were noisier than others.
“I live in New York City, and I wanted to be able to hear my dates, to connect with them,” he said. “I would go to Google and Yelp and search for ‘quiet’ in the user comments. I had a list of places, 10 to 20. But most of the time, these places would not be quiet at all.”
SoundPrint can identify conversation-friendly spots, as well as alert restaurant management to sound issues they should address. The app currently measures more than 3000 venues, but that number is expected to grow once the app enters circulation this month. While you’re waiting for data to be accumulated for your city, Scott recommends that you look for signs a restaurant might have manageable sound levels. Tablecloths, upholstered chairs, and drapes can act as sound absorbers; tables set further apart from one another can also help minimize ambient noise.