Research Unit Individualized Hearing Acoustics
Approximately 18% of our population has a primarily age-related hearing impairment requiring treatment, and this percentage is steadily increasing due to the demographic trend. At the same time there is a rise of the individual requirements for secure acoustical (speech) communication especially in acoustically challenging situations (e.g., in a car, in large rooms with ambient noise and reverberation). Therefore, securing acoustic perception of the individual person irrespective of the acoustic situation has become increasingly important.
Due to the technological progress and a change in user behavior (e.g. due to the availability of Bluetooth headsets and the provision of open hearing aids with wireless audio transmission technology) the demand for an individualized hearing presentation has risen greatly in the last years. However, the actual benefit of the new technologies remains very limited because of not being optimally adjusted to the individual user or the respective acoustically challenging situation. In order to facilitate an optimal individualized hearing presentation, solutions for the three following fundamental problems must be found:
- Identification and compensation/suppression of acoustic ambient noise sources in any acoustic scenes.
- Securing the acoustic transmission from an electro-acoustical system (e.g., hearing aid, audio headset, loudspeakers) to the ear of the individual user.
- Extensive compensation of the individual hearing impairment and provision for the individual sound preferences by appropriate preprocessing of the acoustic signal.
How can we solve these problems in order to maintain a correct perception of the acoustic signals (speech, music, alarm signals) for all people (both normal-hearing and hearing-impaired) and in acoustically challenging situations? To answer this central research question our group investigates auditory models and algorithms in order to develop demonstrators - i.e., new programs and prototype devices - which can be used to predict and control the acoustic perception in most situations for most individual users. These demonstrators will be used as a basis for future systems that, on the long run, optimize acoustic perception for all people in all acoustic situations.