Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Digital helpers for the hearing impaired

17.08.2010
Every fifth German is hearing impaired. In their private and in their work lives, they are restricted – such as when making a telephone call. Researchers are now ready with a digital solution, one that can partially compensate for the hearing loss. Soon, the system will be integrated into devices such as telephone systems and cell phones.

»Pardon me? Would you mind speaking louder, please? I can‘t understand you.«“

About 13 million Germans cannot hear well. And it is not necessarily an issue of age. According to data from the German Association for the Deaf, roughly 19 percent of those over 14 years are hearing impaired. In the over-65 bracket, the numbers increase to every second person. Hearing abilities diminish primarily between the ages of 40 and 50. Many of those affected indicate that the impairment limits their performance at the workplace. Most diffi culties involve communication. Of particular diffi culty are telephone communications - such as via the Internet (Voice over IP). Here, the telephone conversation is conducted via computer networks using the Internet Protocol. Ambient noise and acoustic echoes often impede the conversation. For the hearing impaired, it is especially problematic. They can only use this Internet option on a very limited basis. They have to increase the volume just to be able to follow the conversation at all. But by doing so, the background noises are also intensifi ed. In any case, signal frequencies that are already loud rapidly become virtually intolerable when intensifi ed further.

In response to this, developers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Oldenburg have come up with a digital solution. In the »Speech-Improved Telephony« project sponsored by the federal ministry for the economy and technology BMWi, they work on algorithms typically used for hearing aids that can at least partially compensate for the hearing loss. The trick: Each hearing impaired person has quite specifi c frequencies that are diffi cult for him or her. »Adjusted to the individual user, soft signals are intensifi ed while loud signals remain unchanged since they would otherwise be perceived as unpleasantly loud,« explains engineer Stefan Goetze of the Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology project group at IDMT. The system also detects background noises and reduces these to a minimum. This provides advantages not only to people who have diffi culty hearing. If a call originates from a loud environment, such as an open-plan offi ce, even persons with normal hearing can benefi t from the signal processing. The system can be set for each call in such a manner that it delivers a consistently intelligible sound pattern.

»One particular challenge is to fi gure out how users can moderate the algorithms themselves in a user-friendly manner. For seniors in particular, simple methods for making adjustments needed to be found. We were able to solve this on a test telephone through a special display. Two audio signals with different sound were visualized through fl owers. By pressing on the fl owers, the seniors can regulate the desired sound. This automatically adjusts the algorithm parameters to the hearing ability of the individual user,« explains Goetze.

The algorithms can be integrated into all audio devices. Scientists have already installed them on an iPod Touch, a telephone system, a video conferencing system and a television. The devices are currently available as demo models. »The fi rst products will probably become available in two years,« says Goetze. »If our technology is incorporated into consumer devices, then those affected will no longer have to constantly rely on their hearing aids.« The researchers will display a video conferencing system in which their algorithms are installed at this year‘s IFA in Berlin, the leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances, September 3-8 (Hall 8.1, Booth 4).

Stefan Goetze | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2010/08/digital-helpers-for-the-hearing-impaired.jsp

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified
05.12.2016 | University of Sussex

nachricht UT professor develops algorithm to improve online mapping of disaster areas
29.11.2016 | University of Tennessee at Knoxville

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>