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Introducing COG-MHEAR: A transformative approach to hearing technology

  • Name
    Adele Goman
    COG-MHEAR Research Programme Manager

"What did you say?" – if you've ever had a conversation near a busy road or in a busy restaurant you've probably experienced a bit of trouble hearing what was being said and you may even have missed what someone was saying. Listening in noisy environments can be a challenge, particularly if you have hearing loss. In these types of situations, it can often help to look at the person talking as watching their lips move can help fill in some of the missing gaps.

Some people with hearing loss use hearing aids which help to amplify sounds in the environment. COG-MHEAR is a new programme that aims to revolutionise the way hearing aids are designed by not only amplifying sounds in the environment, but also by using visual information (such as lip movements) to improve speech clarity in noise. Creating such 'multi-modal' hearing aids sounds ambitious – and it is – but the team have done some prior work that shows that it is possible to extract visual information and use it to enhance the clarity of speech. You can experience this for yourself in an interactive demo here.

Of course, there are some technical hurdles to get over to make this approach work in a hearing aid. For a start all the visual information needs to be captured and processed whilst preserving the privacy of the user. The visual information then needs to be processed and combined with the auditory information and presented to the ear all within an incredibly short period of time as conversations move really fast. These are some of the challenges which COG-MHEAR hopes to address with the aim of transforming hearing care by 2050.

The COG-MHEAR team will keep you updated as this project progresses through this blog.

COG-MHEAR is a four-year programme that is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and it involves investigators across seven different universities and multiple industrial, clinical, and charity partners. The COG-MHEAR programme launched in March 2021.

To find out more about COG-MHEAR click here.

Meet the COG-MHEAR team here and the COG-MHEAR partners here.

If you have any comments, suggestions or would like to find out more please let us know here.