Signal to noise ratios (S/N) when close to zero determine speech intelligibility and hence the degree of acoustical privacy between a speaker and a listener. Though S/N is generally used to establish the efficiency of communication systems, it is equally useful in quantifying desired privacy. Factors affecting the signal are voice effort, separating by distance, partial or full enclosure, and sound absorption. Factors affecting noise are traffic noise, air conditioning, and internal activity. The former are controllable, the latter are not. There is, tehrefore, a need in many instances to electronically generate noise to assure privacy at times when the other noise makers do not provide an adequately low S/N. The design and application of such systems are discussed.
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