K.R. Moeller Associates Ltd.
MODIO successfully masks hotel room noise and delivers a more restful experience for guests.
By Tim O’Connor, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
For 40 years, K.R. Moeller Associates Ltd. (KRM) has helped people work better with its electronic sound-masking technology. The Ontario-based company revolutionized the industry in 2003 by introducing the world’s first networked system. It is now bringing its expertise to the hospitality industry in the form of MODIO, a sound-masking device designed specifically for hotel rooms. In this application, the goal is to help guests get a good night’s sleep.
It might seem counterintuitive, but MODIO’s solution to a restful night is to introduce more sound into a room. True silence can actually create more opportunity for sleep disruption. Even a relatively quiet noise can cause a volume spike in a silent room, and research has found that it’s the variance in sound that is most likely to wake up a sleeping person.
“Historically, hotels have mistakenly tried to make their rooms ever more silent by increasing sound isolation via walls, windows and doors, as well as by reducing sounds from building systems and equipment,” Vice President Nik Moeller says. “While it’s good to reduce noises, you also have to take the step of raising and controlling the background sound level, or you leave the room exposed to even more intermittent noises. Research is clear that we sleep better with higher but consistent background sound levels than we do with lower variable ones.”
MODIO tackles the problem by creating a soft sound that raises the background sound level in guest rooms, which is otherwise typically as low as 28 to 33 decibels. “By simply elevating the ambient level, any of the spikes that exceed it will be less likely to wake you up because there’s less change in the room’s acoustic conditions,” Moeller says.
MODIO’s broad spectrum sound makes it more effective than competing devices, he says. “Hotels are using our technology to address the full range of hotel noises, from noisy neighbors, traffic and outside noise, elevators, plumbing, HVAC and even bars,” Moeller continues.
Hotels can choose a standard masking curve or have the device’s frequency output precisely tuned for that specific room to achieve the most effective masking. Further, guests can use a control pad in the room to raise or lower the volume to their liking. The ability to adjust the sound makes MODIO a more flexible solution than other devices that have a fixed output, Moeller says.
“Doing things right is never the easy way and, with such little knowledge in the industry of what separates good from bad masking, it would be tempting for some to pitch lesser solutions,” he says. “But that’s never been our approach.”
The device is typically installed on the back of the hotel room’s TV, but it can also be placed under the bed or in other parts of the room. The key is that it should be placed somewhere where it can work effectively while appearing invisible to the guest. “From our commercial experience, we know that people are more comfortable and accepting of the background sound if its source isn’t visible,” Moeller says.
MODIO’s sound itself is designed to be unobtrusive, similar to smooth airflow with no patterns or noticeable variations. “There’s nothing in the MODIO sound that calls attention to itself and most people find they quickly ignore it, if they even notice that it’s on in the first place,” Moeller says.
The first whole hotel implementation of MODIO was completed earlier this year and more are in the works. KRM will leverage its experience in installing its LogiSon Acoustic Network commercial masking system in hotels to bring its new solution to new customers. “Our masking solutions have been used across a full range of hotel types and to address a wide variety of noises,” Moeller says. “We have properties ranging from boutique locations such as the Fogo Island Inn [in Newfoundland, Canada] to mid-market and budget locations.”
The company has been charting its technology’s impact on hotel visitors. Many guests have mentioned the sound-masking solution on their shortlist of standout amenities in reviews and on guest experience surveys.
“You can see the results in guest feedback,” Moeller says. “For properties that have been in place for a while, we find hundreds of online reviews mentioning our product. The vast majority of guests comment that they found this amenity both interesting and effective and the few who preferred not to use it could turn it off, just like they can turn off the heat or the lights.”
Although MODIO has already proven itself a capable sound-masking solution, the device will keep evolving through future iterations. “Our company has always continued to push improvements to masking technology and this will be no different with MODIO,” Moeller says. “As we hear back from our customers, we will be bringing new additions to the MODIO lineup.”