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 Cutting edge research for the industries of tomorrow – DFKI and NICT expand cooperation
21.03.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

nachricht Molecular motor-powered biocomputers
20.03.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>