Visual enrichment for improving acoustic communication with hearing aids

  • Position identifier: ESR13
  • Host partner: HoRZ

Objectives

Speech communication in social environments with difficult listening conditions such as cocktail parties does not only require understanding a single speaker in static background noise. It also requires switching of attention between target sources, e.g., between two or more conversation partners, and adaptation to rapidly changing acoustic fore- and backgrounds. Current hearing aids largely fail to support hearing-impaired listeners in steering their attention appropriately, as they try to suppress all sound sources but one, which prevents the listener from analyzing and perceiving the whole acoustic scene properly. The aim of this project is to overcome this restriction of current hearing aid technology and to improve acoustic communication of hearing-aid users in challenging acoustic conditions by multimodal analysis of both the acoustic environment and the user’s head- and eye-movements to infer optimal settings and steering parameters for the hearing aid’s signal processing and to provide additional visual cues about active sound sources to support attention switching, thereby reducing the cognitive load.

The ESR will have the opportunity to pursue a PhD programme at the University of Oldenburg (supervisor: Prof. Dr. Volker Hohmann) on the basis of the cooperation treaty between Hörzentrum and University, which allows for PhD projects to be conducted at Hörzentrum, jointly supervised with university staff.

Collaboration is planned with TOBII, the University of Edinburgh and Hacettepe.