SoundCompass: A Distributed MEMS Microphone Array-Based Sensor for Sound Source Localization

Jelmer Tiete, Federico Xavier Dominguez Bonini, Bruno Da Silva Gomez, Laurent Segers, Kris Steenhaut, Abdellah Touhafi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Sound source localization is a well-researched subject with applications ranging from localizing sniper fire in urban battlefields to cataloging wildlife in rural areas. One critical application is the localization of noise pollution sources in urban environments, due to an increasing body of evidence linking noise pollution to adverse effects on human health. Current noise mapping techniques often fail to accurately identify noise pollution sources, because they rely on the interpolation of a limited number of scattered sound sensors. Aiming to produce accurate noise pollution maps, we developed the SoundCompass, a low-cost sound sensor capable of measuring local noise levels and sound field directionality. Our first prototype is composed of a sensor array of 52 Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) microphones, an inertial measuring unit and a low-power field-programmable gate array (FPGA). This article presents the SoundCompass's hardware and firmware design together with a data fusion technique that exploits the sensing capabilities of the SoundCompass in a wireless sensor network to localize noise pollution sources. Live tests produced a sound source localization accuracy of a few centimeters in a 25-m2 anechoic chamber, while simulation results accurately located up to five broadband sound sources in a 10,000-m2 open field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1918-1949
Number of pages32
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2014


  • SoundCompass
  • MEMS microphone
  • microphone array
  • beamforming
  • wireless sensor networks
  • sound source localization
  • sound map
  • noise map


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