Yamaha's Unique Acoustic Environment
Enhancement Creates New Workplaces

Amid calls for work style improvement, optimization of working hours and work-life balance, and adaptation to diverse ways of working, methods such as mobile work, teleworking, and open-space offices are becoming increasingly established. That background is leading people to think again about the ideal form of the places they work in.

At Yamaha, we have been watching these changes in the world, and we are developing a new business field that creates workplaces where people can deliver both their highest productivity, and their richest creativity.


YAMAHA TECHNOLOGY SUPPORTS DIVERSE OFFICE AND WORK STYLES

Changes in individual working environments and the new emphasis on work-life balance have ushered in an era of new ideas about how offices should be. Yano Research Institute Ltd. forecasts that the work-style improvement solutions market in Japan will grow to exceed JPY500 billion by 2020*1. Through collaboration with a range of partner companies, Yamaha is applying our products to offer the world new ways of working in offices.

For example, although teleworking, which removes the constraints of time and location, has been gaining popularity, this style of working is subject to an imbalance in the type of work. The majority of the work still consists of emailing, schedule checking, and document creation, and the use of remote conference systems using speakerphones remains low. One barrier is the problem of the acoustic environment. In open-plan offices, and in places like cafes where mobile staff work, people are bothered by the noise of their surroundings and conscious of being overheard, so it is often difficult for them to talk or teleconference without stress.

Therefore, we wanted to take existing products previously developed for other purposes, and combine them for use in offices, and to propose ideas that solve problems with acoustic environments. We combined AVITECS soundproofed rooms, which are mainly used for music practice; the speech privacy system that uses our unique sound masking technology by using other sound to conceal conversation; our unified communication microphone and speaker system which will make remote conversations more comfortable in future; and sound conditioning panels which adjust room acoustics. The result is a comfortable sound space within the office, where people can talk and teleconference without caring about sound intruding or leaking out. In June 2019, we launched our new VSP-2 speech privacy system. To facilitate installation in office environments, this system uses a split configuration, which separates the amplifier that serves as the sound source from the speaker which produces the actual sound. The speaker, compact enough to fit in the palm, can be installed on a wall or ceiling, to blend naturally into office spaces.

  • *1 : Source: "The Workstyle Transformation Solutions Market in 2018 and its Future Prospects (solutions section)", Yano Research Institute Ltd., September 2018.
[ picture ] Sound masking in an open space, using a speech privacy system
Sound masking in an open space, using a speech privacy system
[ picture ] A unified communication speakerphone and acoustic conditioning panels make conversation easy in remote conference
A unified communication speakerphone and acoustic conditioning panels make conversation easy in remote conference

COLLABORATION WITH AN UNPRECEDENTED PARTNER COMPANY

In February 2019, we announced the results of a three-company joint demonstration project, in which Yamaha partnered with the office furniture manufacturer INABA INTERNATIONAL Co., Ltd. ("INABA"), and the systems integrator NEC Networks & System Integration Corporation ("NESIC"). The theme of our joint demonstration project was "acoustic countermeasures for videoconferencing in an open office space." The background to the project was the growing need for countermeasures against leaking conversations as offices transform into open spaces.

The demonstration setup used a semi-closed space assembled from "YURT" low acoustic absorption partitions by Inaba (the panels were used to make two versions - a fixed installation of linked panels and a movable installation arranged from caster-equipped panels). For conversation, we used a Yamaha YVC-200 unified communication speakerphone and a CS-700AV speakerphone with HD camera. When we demonstrated this setup with the "Zoom" online conferencing system sold by NESIC, the results showed acoustic pressure reductions of 40-70% in four experimental models. We added the Yamaha VSP-2 speech privacy system to create an total system combining “acoustic absorption + masking + camera/mic/speaker,” which prevents leakage of sound and conversation, and will be on sale soon. These products also attracted attention at Interop Tokyo*2, one of Japan's largest ICT events, which took place at Makuhari Messe, Chiba, in June 2019.

Other than acoustic absorption and masking, another basic acoustic countermeasure for offices is acoustic isolation. In a box-shaped booth with acoustic isolation close to that of a sealed room, it is possible to prevent sound leaking in or out with high precision, but cost and installation space are problems. We expect to see the growing interest in acoustic environments utilizing use low-cost, easily installed partitions, as jointly demonstrated by three companies. For Yamaha, this is also a new opportunity to collaborate with partner companies from different business domains.

  • *2 : The Yamaha VSP-2 won the Jury's Special Award in the Security category of the Best of Show Award. The award is granted by a jury consisting of key personnel from major media companies and academic experts, scrutinizing selected new products entered by exhibitor companies.
[ photo ]  Our exhibit at Interop Tokyo 2019
Our exhibit at Interop Tokyo 2019
[ photo ]  Joint demonstration layout (fixed type)
Joint demonstration layout (fixed type)

Progress in work style improvement has led to office changing into open spaces, and the widespread use of Web conference systems for teleworking.
That raises the challenge of "acoustic countermeasures."

Starting by clearing Fire Services Act requirements, we have developed our "YURT" low partitions, made from combinations of highly original inclined panels. They deliver a reduction of around 70% in acoustic pressure leakage. We have confirmed with a questionnaire survey that combination with Yamaha's speech privacy system can achieve an even greater reduction in sound stress.

In collaboration with Yamaha, professionals in the field of "sound," we will deliver solutions that help to build more optimized office environments.

[ photo ] INABA INTERNATIONAL Co., Ltd. Workplace Division, Office Creative Director Katsufumi Hira

INABA INTERNATIONAL Co., Ltd.
Workplace Division, Office Creative Director

Katsufumi Hira


NEW POTENTIAL IN THE FUTURE OF DIVERSE WORKSTYLES

The concept of "Activity Based Working" (ABW), in which people choose their work location according to the content of their work, is taking root in the West and in China. In that work style, discussions happen on a sofa or lounge seats, but people shift to quiet booths when they need to do focused work. It is expected to raise productivity and creativity. The major Japanese office furniture manufacturers are all moving to support ABW, and it is expected to become a major movement in Japan, but as office spaces become more open, allowing workers to shift to the right spaces for their work raises sound-related problems which must be addressed. Yamaha's role is to offer solutions that enhance acoustic environments while also ensuring security.

The ideal form of the sound solutions Yamaha aspires to would build better acoustic environments in diverse situations, along with offering easily-introduced services such as the total system of "acoustic absorption + masking + camera/mic/speaker" with serious assembly-type soundproof rooms like those from AVITECS. By using sound technologies to impart rich functions and meaning to office spaces, we will go beyond solving problems in the workplace, to create new value in buildings and other real estate resources.

- Yamaha solutions support office acoustic environments -

Soundproofed room and soundproofing materials prevent leakage of speech and sound

AVITECS

[ photo ] AVITECS

Adjust the acoustics of the room and create a good sound environment

Acoustic conditioning panels

[ photo ] Acoustic conditioning panels

Convey participants' voices clearly in teleconferencing

Microphones and speakers

[ photo ] Microphones and speakers

Protect privacy and the confidential information included in conversations

Speech privacy system

[ photo ] Speech privacy system