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User Experience: Laptops

Audio quality is important in every aspect of life. Its time to get a laptop that takes audio quality seriously.

In the past two years, online meetings have become more commonplace. This shift has put more stress on the technology we use to communicate with each other. Specifically, the microphones in our laptops have been placed under more stress than they can handle. While manufacturers have made significant strides to improve the video quality of the cameras in our laptops, the microphones are still less than adequate. This makes communication difficult. Whether it’s a kid yelling in a different room or a noisy fan, these sounds are picked up and disrupt meetings. How can we possibly get rid of this background noise that our microphones pick up? Soundskrit’s directional microphones have the answer, allowing video conferencing to become as simple and as refreshing as talking in person.

The issue with microphones in current laptops

The inside of your laptop

Currently, the microphones in typical laptops are all omnidirectional, which means they are unable to discern which direction sound comes from. These microphones are fine at detecting our voices during meetings. But they also pick up superfluous noise that diminishes the audio quality. For example, if you were in a meeting and someone in a nearby room started yelling, the other people in the meeting would hear their voice.

Laptop manufacturers have attempted to solve this problem by using multiple microphones combined with signal processing to reduce noise. While this technique has improved audio quality, the difference is minor. Furthermore, this system is complex to implement. Ultimately, the microphones need a way to understand the direction sound comes from to cancel out noise. This is a problem that Soundskrit’s directional microphones can solve.

Replacing the microphones in our laptops with Soundskrit microphones would drastically improve the quality of the audio in our video calls. Our microphones were inspired by the hairs along a spider’s body. When soundwaves move through the air perpendicular to the hairs, the spider’s hairs vibrate. This allows spiders to sense which direction the sound is coming from. Our microphones apply these same principles to detect the velocity of sound. By sensing direction, these microphones would be able to focus on a specific area to listen to. As long as you are in front of your computer, the microphones will isolate your voice and zero out any sound coming from other directions. Even in a loud room, you can still be heard clearly while video conferencing.

Everyday failures of laptops

At one of my previous internships, I encountered a problem that Soundskrit microphones could have solved. I shared a room with two other interns. The three of us often had to hop on meetings throughout the week. While in these meetings, the omnidirectional microphones on our computers picked up noise and other voices from throughout the room. This problem became even worse when we all had to join the same meeting. The volume from our computers would create a feedback loop when picked up by the other mics. If our computers instead had Soundskrit microphones installed, they could focus on our voices and use noise suppression to ignore any other sounds.

A happy student using her laptop with Soundskrit MEMS microphones.

This technology could have many benefits for people who use the webcams in their laptops on a regular basis. For example, I am a student who often needs to join classes or office hours remotely. If I join these meetings from a busy place like a classroom building or library, the microphones on my laptop will pick up the sounds of people walking and talking around me. To avoid this noise, I have to go home to take meetings which can be inconvenient. Having a better microphone in my laptop would ensure a consistent audio experience no matter where I am taking calls.

These computer microphones will have a similar usefulness in a business setting. Even when video conferencing from home, not everyone has access to a noiseless room. A parent might have children they need to watch, or a young employee could have roommates talking in a nearby room. People should not have to plan entire meetings around the sounds in their homes that are out of their control. By using voice isolation to remove background noise, Soundskrit microphones can preserve the privacy of the audio experience, so only you will be heard during meetings.

The future of laptops

Our online communication should no longer be stuck in the past. With Soundskrit’s directional microphones installed in laptops, noise will no longer be an issue. Wherever you work from, you can ensure that any meetings that you join will have consistent audio quality through your microphone. If you are interested in learning more about our microphones and seeing other possible applications, head to our applications page for more information.