The overall goal of this project is to develop technologies and in Phase III devices for better hearing that would be inexpensive, offer extraordinary benefit in difficult listening conditions, be easily accessible and esthetically beautiful. The technologies to be developed in this study would facilitate the deployment of not only inexpensive, small, modern looking, and high quality personal amplifiers, but would most importantly enable interconnectivity between different devices. Thus, the participating devices would act as a "smart swarm," and would coordinate and share signal and noise information among themselves and with plethora of smart objects in the world around. In its simplest form the swarm intelligence would provide to the listener the signal picked up by the device located closest to the source of sound and thus deliver to the listener the best available signal to noise ratio. In a more complex form, a multitude of devices would team up to provide a more efficient tracking of and zooming on the source of sound further enhancing the signal to noise ratio. The devices to be developed in Phase III will be offered through a variety of consumer retail channels and will address the hearing health needs of individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss. The devices will work directly off the shelf or, if desired, they can be further fine-tuned b the wearer using a smart phone, or professionally adjusted by the audiologist. Due to the deployment of the technologies to increase the signal to noise ratio, it is expected that in many difficult listing situations, these devices may surpass the far more expensive hearing aids. The devices will also be marketed to people with normal hearing to facilitate communication in noise and to serve as a high end headset for music listening, telephone communication, TV listening etc. This will not only increase the size of the target market for the product, but will blur the distinction between people with and without hearing loss and effectively deal with stigma.

Public Health Relevance

The goal of this project is to develop an innovative family of devices which will enhance the hearing of both people with hearing loss and those with normal hearing. The devices will have powerful hearing correction algorithms implemented in the DSP. These devices can be fit to a person's hearing either by using a smartphone application or by visiting an audiologist who will tune the device using custom fitting software. The proposed devices will also be interconnected using RF technologies and this will help in difficult listening environments like noise where traditional hearing aids have low performance. The RF communication will provide means for the seamless connection with different sources of audio (like music players, smart watches, televisions etc.) and will be highly beneficial for the hearing impaired.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZDC1)
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Miller, Roger
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Batandcat, Inc.
Palo Alto
United States
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