Dear UKAN+ Member

Welcome to our November newsletter, a range of news from across our network reflecting and informing our community.

Funding Call 2 - Now Closed

Funding information
The UKAN+ funding call (Call 2) opened 8th September 2022 and closed 19th October 2022. It has been well subscribed. The received applications are now under consideration. Following our review process, we will announce the award winners before Christmas.

If you would like to see the award winners from the 2021 call, visit Funded Projects - The UK Acoustics Network
Speech Enhancement challenge for Augmented Reality (SPEAR) challenge
Members of the speech and audio processing lab at Imperial College London have just launched the SPEAR Challenge. This is an IEEE SPS challenge, run in partnership with Reality Labs Research (Meta), which seeks to stimulate new research in the context of head-worn microphone arrays. Augmented hearing offers the potential for easier communication in noisy environments, such as restaurants and bars.

More information can be found on its website along with all the freely available data and tools. We encourage people to register for the latest information and to follow the SPEAR challenge on Twitter.
Nominations for 2023 Royal Academy of Engineering Awards & Prizes
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Deadline: 5pm, Friday 4 November 2022

Academy prizes and medals recognise excellent engineering wherever it might be found. The celebration of engineering excellence is key to demonstrating the relevance of engineering to society today and inspiring the next generation of engineers.

The opportunity to nominate is open to anyone who wishes to highlight contributions to engineering excellence.
EPSRC’s Strategic Delivery Plan
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
EPSRC’s Strategic Delivery Plan was published in September, setting out priorities for the current three-year spending review period, and detailing support for business and academia collaborations to deliver against them. EPSRC encourage the engineering and physical science community to work with them on the activities outlined in the three focus areas within the strategic delivery plan:
  • discovery-led research: reaffirming our commitment to the core disciplines of engineering and physical sciences
  • mission-driven priorities: driving the translation of breakthroughs in engineering and physical sciences research through to social and economic benefit in net zero; artificial intelligence, digitalisation and data; transforming health and healthcare; and quantum technologies.
  • an effective ecosystem for engineering and physical sciences: providing the skills training, partnerships, places and infrastructure required by our community to deliver their ambition.
More details on specific activities referred to, such as the flagship Prosperity Partnerships scheme and an upcoming CDT call with be published in the coming months.

Seven other councils within UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) also published their strategic delivery plans at the same time. The strategic delivery plans sit alongside the UKRI corporate plan and detail the activities councils will undertake, against six strategic objectives.
The New Scientist Live event was held at London's ExCeL Centre from 7-9th of October 2022. More than 40,000 visitors from all over the UK attended this event. There were over 120 talks with full to capacity audiences and 150 exhibitors full of fun activities and experiences created an incredible show. The UK Acoustics Network Plus (UKAN+) composed of researchers from across the UK presented an interactive demonstration of all thing’s acoustics. From the magic of Chladni plates explaining the intro of the Lord of the Rings, Rings of Power intro scene to an acoustic levitator, from ultrasound machines showing people their very own heart to metamaterials showcasing noise cancellation and crazy voice changing device that lets you hear your voice on Mars and on Venus! Researchers, Nikhil Banda (from Drumgrange Ltd.), Hasina Begum, Aristeidis Karnezis, Paulo Sergio Pivo (from the University of Sheffield), Gianluca Memoli, Letizia Chisari, Yuanyan Zhao, Abdelhalim Azbaid El Ouahabi (from Sussex University and Metasonixx) Mathew Nethercote, Elena Medvedeva and Diana Kuzmina (from the University of Manchester) were very excited to be part of this event, encouraging and inspiring young Engineers, Scientists and of course Acousticians of the future. We are grateful to all our volunteers who made this event a success.
Revised planning guidance in relation to air quality, noise and soundscape

The Welsh Government launched a public consultation on new planning guidance relating to air quality, noise and soundscape. The consultation closes on 20 January 2023.

Planning Policy Wales was revised in 2018 to reflect the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. It brought noise and air quality policies together for the first time in Welsh planning policy and set out new policy on soundscape. However, the supporting technical advice on noise, Technical Advice Note (TAN) 11: Noise, has yet to be brought into line with the new policy contained in PPW. The existing TAN 11 dates back to 1997 (excepting a minor clarification in 2015) and relies heavily on decibel-based Noise Exposure Categories for new dwellings.

The new TAN 11, published today in consultation draft form, aims to help planning authorities and developers implement the air quality, noise and soundscape policies now contained in Planning Policy Wales. It doesn’t dispense entirely with decibel-based criteria, but it gives much more weight to good acoustic design, and to soundscape assessment and design.

The new TAN 11 is accompanied by a Supporting Document on soundscape design, developed jointly with the Noise Abatement Society and in discussion with the soundscape subgroup of the Association of Noise Consultants.

UKAN+ Events
UKAN+ Online Webinar -
Acoustics versus Psychoacoustics in Mixed Reality 13th December 2022.
We are looking to plan our schedule advance. Please email if you are interested in hosting a UKAN+ Zoom webinar. z.hunter@acoustics.ac.uk
You can replay our various webinars via our YouTube, including the Ecotones: Soundscapes of Trees
New grant related to acoustics
ActivATOR - Active AudiTiOn for Robots

Cristine Evers has been awarded £443,263 for a three-year grant from EPSRC.

The ambition of this project is to develop a cobot that will augment the auditory experience of a hearing-impaired person.

This project will consider the specific case study of a collaborative robot ('cobot') that augments the auditory experience of a hearing-impaired human partner. Hearing loss is the second most common disability in the UK, affecting 11M people. The loss of hearing affects situational awareness as well as the ability to communicate, which can impact on mental health and, in extreme cases, cognitive function. Nevertheless, for complex reasons that range from discomfort to social stigma, only 2M people choose to wear hearing aids. More information about this grant can be found here.
Get in touch!
If you have any news for our December newsletter do drop us an email before the 28th of November. We are interested to hear a range of news, perhaps you have a recent publication, or you would like to offer a blog for our community or maybe you know of some industry news we could share.