Here is a novel discovery that may enhance the quality of life for hard-of-hearing people. With a highly innovative approach, investigators from the University of Surrey and the RNID have developed a microphone system that is designed with the ability to pick out individual voices. Integrated with a sound-separation technology, the system named as ‘Mic Array’ comprises a microphone for picking up all sounds in a room.
The technology empowers its users to select the one voice they want to listen by minimizing all the other sounds. It comes with noise separation software, so that people can seemingly focus on one voice and ‘turn off’ background noise. The efficacy of this prototype technology was tested on 40 RIND members who regularly used their hearing aids via the charity’s own ‘Modified Rhyme Test’. Participants had to listen to a series of recordings played through a loop system on their hearing aids. These recordings apparently were very much similar to those found in post offices and banks.
All the listeners were also shown a six-word list and asked to identify which of the six words were spoken. On completion of the study, the newly invented ‘Mic Array’ appeared four times better than a normal microphone in terms of speech intelligibility. Dr Banu Gunel, who invented the technology and now a visiting research fellow at the University of Surrey along with colleagues believe that the microphone system can benefit a wide number of individuals having issues with their hearing abilities.
The technology has been developed with financial support from the University’s Knowledge Transfer Account.