Many people with hearing loss opt out of using hearing aids because of their discomfort, poor performance, or simply compliance. This is probably even more common when the person is at home and would like to relax and crank up the TV. Others in the home may not be as hot about hearing the TV on full volume, a cause for inevitable domestic fights the world over. Researchers at University of Southampton have developed a speaker system that can focus high volume audio on one person while letting everyone else in the room hear things at normal levels.
The system consists of loudspeakers that are accurately phase-shifted in respect to each other to create a “hot-spot,” while everything around is kept at standard volume. There have been similar systems, but the new technology gets rid of a speaker array placed in the back of the room that has been used to cancel out audio waves that approach the healthy listeners from the rear.
From University of Southampton:
“My array uses individual loudspeaker elements that are specially designed first-order acoustic radiators, or phase shift sources, thus saving cost and improving the robustness of the array to variations in the sensitivity of the elements and in the reproduction environment,” said Marcos Simón, a PhD researcher from the University’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research.
The operation of the array has been tested by performing behavioural experiments in a normal room, and it has been seen that using the device it is possible obtain about a 30 per cent of speech intelligibility improvement of the hearing impaired listeners, while maintaining a good audio quality in the zone where the healthy listeners are sat.
Marcos adds: “This is quite an encouraging result, as it confirms that it is possible to use the array as a complementary aid for the hard of hearing. This means a 70-year old person can listen to a TV programme normally without disturbing others around them.”
U of Southampton: TV sound system for the hard of hearing…