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The first year of COG-MHEAR research

  • Name
    Dorothy Hardy
    COG-MHEAR Research Programme Manager

The COG-MHEAR research teams held an online workshop on 23rd February 2022 to show ways in which their research has taken shape over the first year of the programme.

Teams in five universities are working on hearing technology that will incorporate privacy-preserving cameras to ‘read’ speech. The use of radio sensors is also being explored as an alternative to cameras. The teams are developing processing technology to combine visual and audio signals to enable hearing aid users to hear clear speech in noisy environments. Talks and poster presentations gave delegates the opportunity to ask questions about the way in which the exciting research is developing.

Initial hearing aid prototypes using the new technology will require internet connectivity to process the audio and visual data. The vision for 2050 is to explore internet-independent, brain-like processing that can be carried out within hearing aids. This will keep hearing aid size, power requirements and budget to a minimum whilst ensuring cybersecurity.

One exciting suggestion during the workshop was the idea of gaining celebrity support for the research. The teams are now looking out for a celebrity interested in promoting improvements in hearing aid technology.

An International Advisory Board made up of experts in hearing and speech technology assessed the ongoing work and gave feedback. The board was led by Prof John Hansen, the Founder and Director of the Center for Robust Speech Systems at Texas University. He summarised the workshop by saying: ‘I saw a lot of exciting and new things. Some are further down the road and some are closer. Anything that lowers the suspicion of the benefits of hearing aids would be good.’