We call you at the window sill – how the Father of Noise Control masters the acoustic industry

Video: Interviewing noise control pioneer in Hong Kong featuring K K Iu (Part 1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJRHBjzGdTo)

Commuting is an indispensable part of our daily lives. We love to enjoy the convenience of road development. Simultaneously, we have to endure the full-of-traffic-noise situation. Hong Kong’s enjoy-and-endure environment has formed the unique Hong Kong home design, including many acoustic features that the public may overlook. In the innovation realm, thanks to the creative and practicable solutions, our city is competent in striking a balance from noise-reduction design through architecture, layout, positioning, and innovative building features to ensure our healthy and pleasant living environment. Hong Kong citizens no longer enjoy and endure the road conditions.

We are pleased to see the Hong Kong leadership in initiating the innovative acoustic window in the public housing and the professional acoustic window consultant in bringing the acoustic window to life. As the Father of Noise Control in the Great China Region, Mr. KK Iu, director of Supreme Acoustic, has the expertise in acoustic projects in the private and public sectors. It is our honour to have Mr. Iu here to share with us.

R – Ms. Rachel Tang from ANewR Consulting Limited

K – Mr. K K Iu, Director of Supreme Acoustics Research Ltd

R: Mr. Iu, you are respected as the Father of Noise Control in the Greater China region and have completed many prestigious projects for the Government, Utilities Companies, and many developers. You are always at the forefront of innovation and own many patents. What makes you such a person? How is your journey?

K: I have been in the acoustic industry for almost forty years. When I was a fresh graduate, I was unsure what I wanted to do, but I found acoustics fascinating, motivating me to learn more.

Noise control and acoustics were a very new and developing industry, which I expected I could grow myself in this career path. Time flies, and it is forty years.

If you ask me why I keep working in the acoustic industry, it is all because solving noise problems gives me satisfaction. I would say an acoustic specialist is a doctor alike. A doctor would find out what makes the patient sick. Translating to the acoustic theme, the acoustic specialist helps the clients identify the root cause of noise problems and solve them. 

Every noise problem is a challenge, and we shall continue to learn more advanced and innovative technologies. One of our Company’s core values is unfailing efforts for excellence, which can be proved by getting more than 20 patents.

It is worth noting that most of the projects that my Company handled are noise control projects. We are acoustic specialists providing total solutions to improve people’s quality of life. 

R: What are the main challenges in the whole acoustic windows movement?

K: The first challenge is to develop a testing standard for acoustic windows to suit the Hong Kong requirements. When the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) of HKSAR planned to promote acoustic windows ten years ago, there was no agreed testing standard for determining the noise reduction performance for acoustic windows in Hong Kong. We have recently worked with EPD to search for testing standards and methods adopted in other countries and cities. Again we are not able to identify the one which we can ultimately find suitable for Hong Kong. Hence we have to develop a unique one with EPD.

Based on ISO 16283 Part 3, EPD would require the testing to use several loudspeakers to form a line source instead of a single loudspeaker proposed in the testing standard. Testing would also require placing the line source at a different angle of sound incidence to the window instead of at 45 deg, as stated in the testing standard. There are also some other differences from the ISO 16282-3, and we have to conduct more testing to validate the most appropriate testing method for Hong Kong. Again, innovation is the key to get our work done for the people in Hong Kong and will also benefit the people in other cities.

Another challenge is the products itself. The requirement in noise reduction performance of acoustic windows is getting higher and higher. More innovative product development is required.

R: You have a very exciting space shuttle. Can you tell us a little bit more?

K: We have the largest accredited acoustic laboratory, including eight reverberation rooms, a silencer testing rig, and two space shuttles. The space shuttle sounds very mysterious. It is the acoustic window test facility which can improve the efficiency in conducting testing.

Ten years ago, window testing could only be begun after the property development was built up with a mock-up floor available. Testing could only be conducted at night time when there was no construction noise. The test results’ accuracy was not very high since it was difficult to control the noise source and test environment.

With the space shuttle, testing can be conducted in an off-site location and day-time. The space shuttle is built as a mock-up flat that can rotate and raise to different heights; testing can efficiently run for different incidence angles. Space Shuttle is also one of our patent designs. 

R: Recently, in HK, there is a mock-up model of the acoustic windows.

What is the primary aim of this? Who is the target audience?

K: There is always a good thing to spread. The mock-up acoustic window model is all about marketing the acoustic window concept to let more people understand this is an innovative and effective noise control installation to reduce traffic noise propagating into the domestic premises. The target audience is the general public whom we want to educate.

What we observed is that the general public does not know the acoustic windows. When they have a new home with an acoustic window, a great product to reduce the noise entering their home, the new homeowners may not appreciate its function and dismantle the acoustic windows. What a waste it is.

R: As the Hong Kong Institute of acoustics’ former president, what do you think about the acoustics industry’s future? How do you see the position of HK?

K: HKIOA has been established since 1994. Our membership grows from fifty members to now over five hundred members. I am delighted to see the growth of HKIOA, and the members can have chances to exchange knowledge and experience with members in other acoustic institutes worldwide.

I am confident in the acoustic market, full of opportunities in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and the rest of Asia. There is a very high demand for improvement in the quality of life.

R: Can you say a few words to people/students/graduates who would like to join the acoustics field?

K: There are tremendous things to discover in the acoustic industry, just like in the Universe. There are more and more to develop and to understand. The recent development in a new acoustic subject is Soundscape, which combines acoustic science with psychology. Sustainable development is all about the environment and human development. The graduates should have faith in career development in the acoustic area since this is the business to be sustainable.

Video: Interviewing noise control pioneer in Hong Kong featuring K K Iu (Part 2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6axMP-qP3g

By: ANewR Consulting Limited, a digital environmental consultant headquartered in Hong Kong since 2008. Our expertise has grown into the context of air and water qualities, noise, green building, waste management, and remediation. With extensive know-how in environmental planning and assessment, feasibility study and policy review, ecological design, monitoring, and audit (EM&A), ANewR has matured to be a leading management consultancy. Standing in the digital transformation reign, ANewR has participated in various environmental digital projects – interactive 3D visualisation, immersive automation virtual environment, Virtual reality, automation system, and monitoring platforms.
(Website: https://anewr.com, LinkedIn: ANewR Consulting Group, Twitter: ANewR – Everyday Newer,
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnpvmxnR9hbNxytSfBdfV8Q/videos)