Washington: Scientists in Germany have come up with a digital device that could help people who are hearing impaired.
Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Oldenburg work on algorithms typically used for hearing aids that can at least partially compensate for the hearing loss.
The idea is that each hearing impaired person has quite specific frequencies that are difficult for him or her.
“Adjusted to the individual user, soft signals are intensified while loud signals remain unchanged since they would otherwise be perceived as unpleasantly loud,” explained engineer Stefan Goetze.
The system also detects background noises and reduces these to a minimum.
This is not only to people who can’t hear well, but also to people of normal hearing if, say, a call originates from a loud environment, such as an open-plan office.
The system can be set for each call in such a manner that it delivers a consistently intelligible sound pattern.
The challenge was to figure out how users, especially seniors, themselves can tweak the algorithms to suit their hearing conditions best.
Through a special display of two flowers, which denote two different audio levels, seniors can regulate the desired sound. This automatically adjusts the algorithm parameters to the hearing ability of the individual user, explained Goetze.
Scientists have already installed them on an iPod Touch, a telephone system, a video conferencing system and a television.
“If our technology is incorporated into consumer devices, then those affected will no longer have to constantly rely on their hearing aids,” said Goetze.