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Royal opening for Europe’s leading vibration research centre

Published: 17 January 2008

New state-of-the art facilities for one of the Universityof Southampton’s most famous research centres will be officially opened by HRH the Earl of Wessex on Tuesday 22 January.

>The Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) at the University of Southampton is Europe’s leading centre for research, teaching and consultancy in sound and vibration. For over forty years the Institute has worked on the interface between technology and humans, playing a major part in making aircraft quieter, developing more efficient cochlear implants for people with hearing loss and improving sound systems. In 2006 it was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize.

To take the Institute’s internationally important work forward in the 21st century, a new £6 million purpose-built facility has been constructed on the University’s Highfield Campus.

‘This excellent new building provides specialist clinical facilities and new laboratories for ISVR’s cochlear implant centre and research related to human responses to sound and vibration, areas in which the University has an excellent global reputation,’ comments ISVR Director, Professor Steve Elliott.

The facilities provide complete clinical and staff accommodation for the ISVR South of England Cochlear Implant Centre, where children and adults with severe to profound hearing loss receive life-changing technology allowing them to communicate via speaking and listening.

The new building is also home to the Human Factors Research Unit (HFRU), which houses unique specialist laboratories for understanding how humans are affected by all forms of vibration. These include a motion simulation laboratory which has the world’s only six-axis simulator for investigating the effect of motion on people’s performance and comfort.

Both cochlear implantation and human response to vibration studies bring together research and clinical practice, enabling these internationally renowned units to push forward the frontiers of knowledge in their respective areas.

The ISVR South of England Cochlear Implant Centre

Cochlear implants provide a sensation of hearing for people who cannot obtain useful benefit from conventional hearing aids. The ISVR South of England Cochlear Implant Centre assesses the benefit that patients could derive from a cochlear implant, arranges for the surgical implant to be carried out and then trains the patient to use the system over a period of about a year.

Rehabilitation is required after implantation to promote optimal benefit from the device, especially in the case of young children who may never have heard before. Younger and younger patients (now about 12 months) are being implanted, since these children get the greatest benefit from the device by learning to use it at a critical period in the development.

The Human Factors Research Unit

The HFRU laboratories include a range of test facilities for safely conducting experiments involving the response of human subjects to whole body, hand-arm and low frequency vibration in areas such as biodynamics, ride comfort, vibration-induced injuries and motion sickness.

The specialist laboratories also include a human vibration library and in-house developed software and hardware, while professional, full-time noise and vibration consultants, with supporting technical and administrative staff, undertake commercial consultancy work and contract research for a number of world-leading companies, Government, local authorities and other organisations and individuals.

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