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SFB 1330 Hearing Acoustics

The Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 1330 "Hearing Acoustics: Perceptive Principles, Algorithms and Applications" (abbreviated HAPPAA) aims to conduct detailed research into the principles of speech communication and to support and promote the population's ability to communicate by improving hearing aids.

Challenges of Speech Communication

Human speech communication is the foundation of our culture and the key to active participation in society. It is challenged by a number of factors such as difficult listening situations at social gatherings, complex room acoustics, pervasive noise and reverberation, and hearing impairment that limit the ability of individuals to achieve their communication goals in realistic listening environments.

Limitations of electroacoustic hearing aids

Currently, electroacoustic hearing aids that support auditory communication in these situations offer limited benefit. A major reason for this is that the interrelationship between these challenging factors, device function, and individual hearing deficits is not well understood.

In particular, passive hearing is assumed in the development of current devices, whereas real-life communication requires active listening. An example of this is head movements for optimal positioning relative to the sound source, anticipating the complex dynamically changing environment and enabling appropriate action. Accordingly, acoustic communication occurs in a loop that includes the sound field, the device, the user's perception, and the user's activity.

The acoustic communication loop

The SFB goes far beyond previous research by systematically investigating this acoustic communication loop and taking it into account for auditory modeling and for the development and evaluation of hearing aids.

The SFB thus aims at a fundamentally better quantitative understanding of the principles underlying the processing of complex acoustic scenes by humans, the implementation of this knowledge in algorithms for perceptual enhancement of acoustic communication, and the evaluation of these algorithms for various applications in consumer electronics, as well as in assistive systems and hearing aids.

In addition, novel laboratory-based "subject-in-the-loop" measurement methods using virtual acoustics will be established to ensure the ecological validity of the results, i.e., to extend the function of the systems to a wide range of real environments of varying acoustic complexity.

Better speech communication through multidisciplinary approach

To achieve these goals, the SFB combines different disciplines, in particular acoustics, psychoacoustics, audiology, engineering, and physical modeling. The intended outcome, i.e., better support of speech communication by electroacoustic devices in real-world environments, better principles of human-machine interaction in consumer electronics, and a comprehensive basis for improved design and evaluation of hearing aids, is highly relevant for our (aging) communication society.

Funding measure

German Research Foundation (DFG)

Project partner

Project duration

First funding period: August 2018 to July 2022

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