The easy way to personalized sound through dynamic hearing profiles
The Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology Division (HSA) of the Fraunhofer IDMT in Oldenburg is developing algorithms for hearing profiles which adjust themselves automatically and dynamically to the acoustic input signal: An easy way to personalized sound and good speech intelligibility for wearers of hearing aids, headphones and hearables. Humantechnik GmbH in Weil am Rhein is currently using this technology in under-chin headphones for home applications.
Everyone hears differently well. But exactly how and what consequences does this have for the development of audio devices? People’s media affinity is growing and continuing into old age. By contrast, hearing deteriorates and a person’s sound preferences can change over the course of their life or even depending on a specific situation: A fact which has received little attention in hearing systems to date. At the same time, users’ increasingly want devices that offer optimum, individualized hearing and are also easy to use.
Individual sound quality, “adaptive” algorithms
In multi-stage adaptation experiments, the Fraunhofer IDMT in Oldenburg has identified sound preferences that represent the most common facets of personalized sound. These form the basis for intelligent and dynamic presettings that can be integrated into products via an easy-to-use interface, e.g. in TV audio systems. Particularly pleasant for the end user: Sound and volume properties are automatically adjusted to hearing preferences when changing channel or during commercial breaks.
»We have developed our algorithms for people who value good sound quality and excellent speech intelligibility. These can be headset wearers in a call centre but also users of hearing aids, headphones for watching TV, listening to music or when on the telephone, or other hearables. In so doing, we’re achieving a new level of sound quality from which both people with normal hearing as well as persons with impaired hearing benefit,« says Dr. Jan Rennies-Hochmuth, Head of Group, Personalized Hearing Systems at the Fraunhofer IDMT.
Under the name »earis®«, the company Humantechnik GmbH is currently presenting a TV audio system developed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer IDMT in Oldenburg, which features under-chin headphones and a pocket receiver that can also be used with other headphones.
"Individual ease of use and highest sound quality: these attributes are combined with our "earis" TV hearing system. The audio know-how and the innovative algorithms for personal euphony at the touch of a button come from Fraunhofer IDMT," explains Gerhard Sicklinger, Managing Director of Humantechnik GmbH.
A large dial makes it easy to adjust the volume. The innovation: The five preset hearing profiles, which can be set simply and intuitively by pushing a button, are not static but instead dynamic. An algorithm developed by the Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology Division (HSA) at the Fraunhofer IDMT especially for users with progressive hearing loss adjusts the sound continuously and dynamically according to the TV viewer’s personal settings. It also makes sure that the sound automatically adjusts to a hearing quality perceived by the individual user as the best – even if the acoustic environment changes.
Hearing, speech and audio technology HSA at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Oldenburg
The objective of the Division Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology HSA of the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT is to transpose scientific findings related to hearing perception and man-machine interaction into technological applications. Its applied research priorities are the enhancement of sound quality and speech intelligibility, personalized audio reproduction, acoustic speech recognition and event detection with the help of artificial intelligence. A further focus is the use of mobile neurotechnologies, which facilitate the recording of brain activity and utilization of the resulting data outside the laboratory too. Application fields include consumer electronics, transport, the automotive sector, industrial production, security, telecommunications and healthcare. Through scientific partnerships, Fraunhofer IDMT-HSA has close links with the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Jade University and other institutions engaged in hearing research in Oldenburg. Fraunhofer IDMT-HSA is a partner in the »Hearing4all« Cluster of Excellence.