In the last decade, hearing aid technology has advanced rapidly and digital hearing aids are now widely available. Paralleling the advancements in hearing aids has been the rapid development in wireless communications. Digital cell phone has become an indispensable tool that enables people to communicate wirelessly around the world. The acoustic characteristics of a cell phone, however, are designed for users with normal hearing. People with sensory hearing loss would have to wear hearing aids during a cell phone call in order to accommodate the hearing loss. It is cumbersome to have to use two (digital) devices to make a simple wireless call. In addition, many digital wireless phones can emits electromagnetic energy that interferes with hearing aids, turning amplified sounds into static and squeals. FCC, for example, has issued a requirement that cell phone manufacturers need to provide hearing aid friendly phones by 2008. Recognizing that cell phones are digital devices that have all the necessary hardware components to support the function of hearing aids, the specific aims of this project are: (1) to develop the software needed to enable hearing aid functions on a cell phone so that people with hearing loss could make a wireless call without the need of hearing aids. (2) to develop and modify system software of the cell phone so that it could be used as an alternative, stand- alone hearing aid/assistive listening device in the off-line (not making a call) mode. (3) to develop advanced noise reduction and speech enhancement programs that otherwise would be difficult to implement on the resource-limited hardware of digital hearing aids. During Phase II, we will determine the speech recognition benefit and listener preference for the hearing aid features of the cell phone in simulated and real-world listening environments. Evaluations will be conducted in both the call mode and off-line (assistive listening device) mode using participants with mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss. The long-term goal of the project is to develop the necessary software and hardware to enable and enhance hearing aids functions on cell phones. The hearing-aid enabled, cell phone system is expected to be an economic, efficient, and effective device of communication for people with sensory hearing loss. ? ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IFCN-G (10))
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Miller, Roger
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Audigicomm, LLC
San Diego
United States
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Mackersie, Carol L; Qi, Yingyong; Boothroyd, Arthur et al. (2009) Evaluation of cellular phone technology with digital hearing aid features: effects of encoding and individualized amplification. J Am Acad Audiol 20:109-18