From World Hearing Day, 3rd March 2022, Londoners will be able to enjoy the sweet sounds of the world’s first Hearing Wellness District, a sensory sanctuary for all those seeking the right balance of socialisation and peace of mind. The District will launch at East London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the pilot site for a start up-led program which aims to make hearing wellness and healthy sound experiences a standard feature of public spaces worldwide.
By 2050, around 1.5bn people will have some degree of hearing reduction resulting from the symphony of ear-damaging sounds in daily life that experts call recreational noise pollution. Standing just behind toxic air pollution as the second largest environmental contributor to health issues, noise pollution affects us all – not just those who are hard of hearing or sensitive to sound.
“How often have you spent the night shouting across the table at a restaurant, or asked your friend to repeat themselves whilst you catch up in a bar? It’s exhausting, it affects our ability to connect and excessive noise is damaging, both for our health and hearing. But noise and healthy levels aren’t mutually exclusive for a venue to have good vibes and we enable venues to find the sweet spot that ensures the wellbeing of their staff, longer dwelling time, repeat customer visits and a more pleasant environment that benefits all.” Marion Marincat, founder of Mumbli.
The Hearing Wellness District has been made possible through a partnership between innovative smart hearing wellness platform, Mumbli and London Legacy Development Corporation. It is the first of many zones that will give us a glimpse of a future with fully inclusive, audio accessible cities. Think of streets, concert venues, offices, shops and more that have all been designed to cut out the noise, and leave you free to connect with your thoughts and the people around you.
As part of the pilot’s initial phase, five community venues throughout the Park including the street food market at Hackney Bridge, Timber Lodge, Signorelli (East Village), Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre café and the Visitor Information Point at the IQL Pavilion have been installed with Mumbli’s smart sound monitoring devices, in an effort to bring health and wellness into the public spotlight.
Through the collection of ongoing quantitative data to measure and optimise for healthy noise levels and quality of conversation supplemented by acoustic treatment, the majority of venues have been acoustically upgraded to certifiably provide visitors and staff with healthy sound experiences.
Qualitative data has also been sourced through the support of the local community, volunteers and staff – all providing feedback from their experiences before and after the optimisation. The resounding positive response has been encouraging and will allow QEOP to act as a benchmark of audio accessibility for future Hearing Wellness Districts to emulate.
The District’s launch coincides with other momentous campaigns that have been introduced to integrate inclusivity in the design of public spaces and is an early demonstrator project of Shift – the Park’s new inclusive innovation programme and partnership.
Emma Frost, Director of Innovation, Sustainability & Community at LLDC, said: ‘As a testbed for urban innovation, we are always looking for new ways of using technology and different approaches to help find practical solutions to everyday problems. Our collaboration with Mumbli is another example of working with people who are committed to bring about positive change to the lives of so many. We want everyone who comes to the Park to feel welcome and included and able to actively participate with all the Park has to offer. It makes us very proud to say the Park is the world’s first Hearing Wellness District and it is hoped other organisations will follow suit.’
The Hearing Wellness District is being developed in collaboration by London-based start-up, Mumbli, and London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Mumbli is a smart hearing wellness platform founded by Marion Marincat, who experienced a sudden 80% reduction in his hearing aged just 26. The innovative tech start-up is on a mission to make hearing wellness a mainstream conversation and address noise pollution in public social spaces. Following four years of development, 2022 marks the launch of Mumbli’s pilot phase at a selection of hospitality and entertainment venues in the London area. Through the installation of its smart sound monitoring devices to measure quality of conversation and healthy noise levels, Mumbli is certifying venues for sound, so venue operators can ensure the wellbeing of their guests and staff.
Built for the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has become the central hub out of which the LLDC are creating a more innovative London metropolitan centre, with a global focus. They are building the Park and its vibrant, surrounding communities into a centre where people can come together to achieve great things; a place where local talent can find celebration, investment, better livelihoods and economic opportunities that can be shared by all.
With expertise gathered across four years of product development, scientific research and expert partnerships, Mumbli spent 18 months working in close collaboration with LLDC and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park venues to roll out the technology needed for the Hearing Wellness District launch.
March 2022 also marks the 15th celebration of World Hearing Day, which presents an opportunity to celebrate and explore how quality conversation, inclusive innovation and audio accessibility can become a standard feature of public social spaces. This year all Londoners will be able to celebrate the occasion with festivities at the world’s first Hearing Wellness Festival, a four-day citywide celebration for anyone with the curiosity to dive mind, body or appetite-first into the latest wellbeing trend. Festival events will include dining experiences with a sensory twist, interactive experiments and live expert panels and Q&A sessions. Each of these experiences will offer guests the chance to unpack how the pleasures of optimised sound can become a part of daily life.