IHearU lets you record and comment on the noise level at different establishments.


Though learning about a restaurant’s food is easy to do in advance, the noise level is typically something you don’t know about until you arrive. And depending on your mood or the reason for your meal, an extremely loud restaurant can be especially annoying – though not always as annoying as finding a last minute alternative. A new app wants to change all that: IHearU (stylized as “iHEARu”) is likely the first app specifically designed to let users share the volume level at places they go and eat.

noise level at restaurants
Credit: Food Delight / EyeEm / Getty Images

Lend an Ear is a Seattle-based organization “committed to creating an ear-friendly world one community at a time.” The free IHearU app, which launched earlier this week in San Francisco, is part of that initiative. Similar to other crowdsourced review apps like Yelp, IHearU will let people provide feedback on all sorts of different places; however, the organization admits that rating places like restaurants is probably most useful to the general public.

Beyond allowing users to leave subjective feedback about noise, the app can also measure decibel levels for you using the microphone. However, as founder and CEO of Lend an Ear Kelly Tremblay points out, noise is more than just a number. “Not all noise is bad,” she said according to Restaurant Hospitality. “Noise is not just a thumbs-down or thumbs-up feature. Any establishment will be loud at some point. What’s special about the app is it gives a breakdown about time spent and [noise levels] down to half-hour increments.”

Tremblay – who is an audiologist, neuroscientist and an advocate for the hearing impaired – says the point of the app isn’t to hurt the reputation of loud restaurants, but simply to give people a way to find quieter spots when they want to. She says that, given enough data, the app could eventually tell users what times are the best to go to a restaurant to get a quieter experience.

For those interested outside of the San Francisco area, Tremblay said a launch is expected in New York in April, and then Portland, Oregon; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and possibly Atlanta and Chicago may be added by the end of the year. Eventually, she would like IHearU to be global.