Speech Privacy

There are a number of ways of classifying speech privacy.
  • Confidential privacy - meaning of spoken message is unintelligible to nearby coworkers who can only hear muffled words, and this doesn't cause noise distraction from work.
  • Normal privacy - speech volume level isn't distracting to work, and most sentences are unintelligible.
  • Transitional privacy - most sentences are intelligible to co-workers, and are distracting, stressful and impair work performance.

A number of issues related to speech privacy are:
  • Problems of speech privacy stem from a high signal/noise ratio.
  • Speech privacy depends upon the intelligibility of encroaching sound.
  • Most of the intelligible speech lies between 2Khz - 4Khz, irrespective of gender.
  • Women have voices ~1 octave higher than men

Speech privacy can be improved by:
  • decreasing the signal strength (talk more quietly, increase distance, absorbent surfaces)
  • increasing the noise level (sound conditioning/noise masking)

See also: Sound Masking.

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