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New Hearing Device Could Solve the 'Cocktail Party Problem'

Published: 05/27/2014

Last Updated: 06/27/2018

Researchers at Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences Sargent College were recently awarded a $2.75 million grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) to further develop their prototype of a visually guided hearing aid (VGHA).

visually guided hearing aid (VGHA)The five-year grant will allow Gerald D. Kidd, Jr., a professor in the department of speech, language & hearing sciences at Sargent College and director of Boston University’s field laboratory, to improve upon his initial VGHA prototype. Combining focused amplification and the selection of a sound source by the listener, the VGHA uses one’s eye gaze to steer the directional amplification of the devices. For example, if one is looking at a person speaking right in front of her, the VGHA senses the direction of her gaze using an eyeglass-mounted eye tracker and then amplifies the sounds in that specific direction.

Kidd said this new design will combat the “cocktail party problem” that is sometimes associated with traditional hearing devices because their powerful amplification abilities sometimes don’t allow for focused amplification. With the success of this new design, Kidd hopes to encourage more people to seek solutions for their hearing difficulties.

Click here to learn more, or click here to read the team’s research article published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Last updated: May 27, 2014


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