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Research project: The modelling of hearing impairment and the design of an array-based hearing aid

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As presented at the Signal Processing and Control Group Away Day, June 2012.

The modelling of different degrees of hearing impairment is possible using a micromechanical model of the cochlea. The use of a micromechanical model with active amplification allows to set a certain level of velocity as the velocity of a fully functioning cochlea. The active gain can hence be modified according to the velocity that a impaired cochlea would have. Once a model of a hearing impaired cochlea is obtained, this can be used to investigate the effect of hearing loss on other properties of hearing, such as masking or selectivity.

In order to create an array-based hearing aid, a very directional radiator with very low input to the reverberant field is needed. This involves that the individual sources of the array should be very directive so that the sound is directed only to the front. This action is obtained using a phase-shift source, a passive gradient-type radiator that allows to use a minimum number of sources for the steering of the array whilst reducing the radiation towards its back.

The anechoic performance of any directional radiator is greatly decreased when this is placed on a real environment. A set of simulations based on measured anechoic directivities and a given reverberation time have made possible to estimate the performance of a line array in real reverberant conditions. The obtained simulations show a reasonably agreement with measurements performed in the same scenario. These simulations can be used in the design process of a line array where a certain performance is required inside reverberant conditions.

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