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Scientific knowledge on the role of absorbing surfaces is well over a century in the making. The first systematic studies of room acoustics were begun by W. C. Sabine at the turn of the 20th century. Sabine discovered the relationship between the reverberation time and the acoustical properties of rooms by using soft, sound absorbing surfaces in his studies. As an industry, we have in large part moved beyond soft surfaces, which today would include fiberglass and mineral wool type paneling. These materials are more often integrated behind the scenes into perforated and resonant systems that offer the durability and visual interest that we enjoy in modern design such as natural wood, light transmitting, graphic motif and brilliantly colored surfaces.
Scientific knowledge on the role of diffusing surfaces, on the other hand, has only been developed much more recently. Over the past 30 years significant research on methods to design, predict, measure, and quantify sound diffusing surfaces by RPG has resulted in a growing body of information on this topic. RPG is currently working with international standards organizations in an attempt to formalize the diffusion coefficient, the metric used to express the degree to which a surface uniformly scatters incident sound, and the random incidence scattering coefficient, the metric used in acoustical computer modeling.

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