Design and evaluation of noise reduction techniques for binaural hearing aids

One of the main complaints of hearing aid users is their degraded speech understanding in noisy environments. Modern hearing aids therefore include noise reduction techniques. These techniques are typically designed for a monaural application, i.e. in a single device. However, the majority of hearing aid users currently have hearing aids at both ears in a so-called bilateral fitting, as it is widely accepted that this leads to a better speech understanding and user satisfaction. Unfortunately, the independent signal processing (in particular the noise reduction) in a bilateral fitting can destroy the so-called binaural cues, namely the interaural time and level differences (ITDs and ILDs) which are used to localize sound sources in the horizontal plane. A recent technological advance are so-called binaural hearing aids, where a wireless link allows for the exchange of data (or even microphone signals) between the ...

Cornelis, Bram — KU Leuven


Preserving binaural cues in noise reduction algorithms for hearing aids

Hearing aid users experience great difficulty in understanding speech in noisy environments. This has led to the introduction of noise reduction algorithms in hearing aids. The development of these algorithms is typically done monaurally. However, the human auditory system is a binaural system, which compares and combines the signals received by both ears to perceive a sound source as a single entity in space. Providing two monaural, independently operating, noise reduction systems, i.e. a bilateral configuration, to the hearing aid user may disrupt binaural information, needed to localize sound sources correctly and to improve speech perception in noise. In this research project, we first examined the influence of commercially available, bilateral, noise reduction algorithms on binaural hearing. Extensive objective and perceptual evaluations showed that the bilateral adaptive directional microphone (ADM) and the bilateral fixed directional microphone, two of the most ...

Van den Bogaert, Tim — Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


Distributed Signal Processing Algorithms for Acoustic Sensor Networks

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of wireless devices for individual use to the point of being ubiquitous. Recent trends have been incorporating many of these devices (or nodes) together, which acquire signals and work in unison over wireless channels, in order to accomplish a predefined task. This type of cooperative sensing and communication between devices form the basis of a so-called wireless sensor network (WSN). Due to the ever increasing processing power of these nodes, WSNs are being assigned more complicated and computationally demanding tasks. Recent research has started to exploit this increased processing power in order for the WSNs to perform tasks pertaining to audio signal acquisition and processing forming so-called wireless acoustic sensor networks (WASNs). Audio signal processing poses new and unique problems when compared to traditional sensing applications as the signals observed often have ...

Szurley, Joseph — KU Leuven


Speech Enhancement Algorithms for Audiological Applications

The improvement of speech intelligibility is a traditional problem which still remains open and unsolved. The recent boom of applications such as hands-free communi- cations or automatic speech recognition systems and the ever-increasing demands of the hearing-impaired community have given a definitive impulse to the research in this area. This PhD thesis is focused on speech enhancement for audiological applications. Most of the research conducted in this thesis has been focused on the improvement of speech intelligibility in hearing aids, considering the variety of restrictions and limitations imposed by this type of devices. The combination of source separation techniques and spatial filtering with machine learning and evolutionary computation has originated novel and interesting algorithms which are included in this thesis. The thesis is divided in two main parts. The first one contains a preliminary study of the problem and a ...

Ayllón, David — Universidad de Alcalá


Distributed Signal Processing Algorithms for Acoustic Sensor Networks

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of wireless devices for individual use to the point of being ubiquitous. Recent trends have been incorporating many of these devices (or nodes) together, which acquire signals and work in unison over wireless channels, in order to accomplish a predefined task. This type of cooperative sensing and communication between devices form the basis of a so-called wireless sensor network (WSN). Due to the ever increasing processing power of these nodes, WSNs are being assigned more complicated and computationally demanding tasks. Recent research has started to exploit this increased processing power in order for the WSNs to perform tasks pertaining to audio signal acquisition and processing forming so-called wireless acoustic sensor networks (WASNs). Audio signal processing poses new and unique problems when compared to traditional sensing applications as the signals observed often have ...

Szurley, Joseph C. — KU Leuven


Development and evaluation of psychoacoustically motivated binaural noise reduction and cue preservation techniques

Due to their decreased ability to understand speech hearing impaired may have difficulties to interact in social groups, especially when several people are talking simultaneously. Fortunately, in the last decades hearing aids have evolved from simple sound amplifiers to modern digital devices with complex functionalities including noise reduction algorithms, which are crucial to improve speech understanding in background noise for hearing-impaired persons. Since many hearing aid users are fitted with two hearing aids, so-called binaural hearing aids have been developed, which exchange data and signals through a wireless link such that the processing in both hearing aids can be synchronized. In addition to reducing noise and limiting speech distortion, another important objective of noise reduction algorithms in binaural hearing aids is the preservation of the listener’s impression of the acoustical scene, in order to exploit the binaural hearing advantage and ...

Marquardt, Daniel — University of Oldenburg, Germany


Binaural Beamforming Algorithms and Parameter Estimation Methods Exploiting External Microphones

In everyday speech communication situations undesired acoustic sources, such as competing speakers and background noise, frequently lead to a decreased speech intelligibility. Over the last decades, hearing devices have evolved from simple sound amplification devices to more sophisticated devices with complex functionalities such as multi-microphone speech enhancement. Binaural beamforming algorithms are spatial filters that exploit the information captured by multiple microphones on both sides of the head of the listener. Besides reducing the undesired sources, another important objective of a binaural beamforming algorithm is the preservation of the binaural cues of all sound sources to preserve the listener's spatial impression of the acoustic scene. The aim of this thesis is to develop and evaluate advanced binaural beamforming algorithms and to incorporate one or more external microphones in a binaural hearing device configuration. The first focus is to improve state-of-the-art binaural ...

Gößling, Nico — University of Oldenburg


Mixed structural models for 3D audio in virtual environments

In the world of Information and communications technology (ICT), strategies for innovation and development are increasingly focusing on applications that require spatial representation and real-time interaction with and within 3D-media environments. One of the major challenges that such applications have to address is user-centricity, reflecting e.g. on developing complexity-hiding services so that people can personalize their own delivery of services. In these terms, multimodal interfaces represent a key factor for enabling an inclusive use of new technologies by everyone. In order to achieve this, multimodal realistic models that describe our environment are needed, and in particular models that accurately describe the acoustics of the environment and communication through the auditory modality are required. Examples of currently active research directions and application areas include 3DTV and future internet, 3D visual-sound scene coding, transmission and reconstruction and teleconferencing systems, to name but ...

Geronazzo, Michele — University of Padova


Integrated active noise control and noise reduction in hearing aids

In every day life conversations and listening scenarios the desired speech signal is rarely delivered alone. The listener most commonly faces a scenario where he has to understand speech in a noisy environment. Hearing impairments, and more particularly sensorineural losses, can cause a reduction of speech understanding in noise. Therefore, in a hearing aid compensating for such kind of losses it is not sufficient to just amplify the incoming sound. Hearing aids also need to integrate algorithms that allow to discriminate between speech and noise in order to extract a desired speech from a noisy environment. A standard noise reduction scheme in general aims at maximising the signal-to-noise ratio of the signal to be fed in the hearing aid loudspeaker. This signal, however, does not reach the eardrum directly. It first has to propagate through an acoustic path and encounter ...

Serizel, Romain — KU Leuven


Design and Evaluation of Feedback Control Algorithms for Implantable Hearing Devices

Using a hearing device is one of the most successful approaches to partially restore the degraded functionality of an impaired auditory system. However, due to the complex structure of the human auditory system, hearing impairment can manifest itself in different ways and, therefore, its compensation can be achieved through different classes of hearing devices. Although the majority of hearing devices consists of conventional hearing aids (HAs), several other classes of hearing devices have been developed. For instance, bone-conduction devices (BCDs) and cochlear implants (CIs) have successfully been used for more than thirty years. More recently, other classes of implantable devices have been developed such as middle ear implants (MEIs), implantable BCDs, and direct acoustic cochlear implants (DACIs). Most of these different classes of hearing devices rely on a sound processor running different algorithms able to compensate for the hearing impairment. ...

Bernardi, Giuliano — KU Leuven


Synthetic reproduction of head-related transfer functions by using microphone arrays

Spatial hearing for human listeners is based on the interaural as well as on the monaural analysis of the signals arriving at both ears, enabling the listeners to assign certain spatial components to these signals. This spatial aspect gets lost when the signals are reproduced via headphones without considering the acoustical influence of the head and torso, i.e. head-related transfer function (HRTFs). A common procedure to take into account spatial aspects in a binaural reproduction is to use so-called artificial heads. Artificial heads are replicas of a human head and torso with average anthropometric geometries and built-in microphones in the ears. Although, the signals recorded with artificial heads contain relevant spatial aspects, binaural recordings using artificial heads often suffer from front-back confusions and the perception of the sound source being inside the head (internalization). These shortcomings can be attributed to ...

Rasumow, Eugen — University of Oldenburg


Integrating monaural and binaural cues for sound localization and segregation in reverberant environments

The problem of segregating a sound source of interest from an acoustic background has been extensively studied due to applications in hearing prostheses, robust speech/speaker recognition and audio information retrieval. Computational auditory scene analysis (CASA) approaches the segregation problem by utilizing grouping cues involved in the perceptual organization of sound by human listeners. Binaural processing, where input signals resemble those that enter the two ears, is of particular interest in the CASA field. The dominant approach to binaural segregation has been to derive spatially selective filters in order to enhance the signal in a direction of interest. As such, the problems of sound localization and sound segregation are closely tied. While spatial filtering has been widely utilized, substantial performance degradation is incurred in reverberant environments and more fundamentally, segregation cannot be performed without sufficient spatial separation between sources. This dissertation ...

Woodruff, John — The Ohio State University


Multi-microphone speech enhancement: An integration of a priori and data-dependent spatial information

A speech signal captured by multiple microphones is often subject to a reduced intelligibility and quality due to the presence of noise and room acoustic interferences. Multi-microphone speech enhancement systems therefore aim at the suppression or cancellation of such undesired signals without substantial distortion of the speech signal. A fundamental aspect to the design of several multi-microphone speech enhancement systems is that of the spatial information which relates each microphone signal to the desired speech source. This spatial information is unknown in practice and has to be somehow estimated. Under certain conditions, however, the estimated spatial information can be inaccurate, which subsequently degrades the performance of a multi-microphone speech enhancement system. This doctoral dissertation is focused on the development and evaluation of acoustic signal processing algorithms in order to address this issue. Specifically, as opposed to conventional means of estimating ...

Ali, Randall — KU Leuven


Analysis, Design, and Evaluation of Acoustic Feedback Cancellation Systems for Hearing Aids

Acoustic feedback problems occur when the output loudspeaker signal of an audio system is partly returned to the input microphone via an acoustic coupling through the air. This problem often causes significant performance degradations in applications such as public address systems and hearing aids. In the worst case, the audio system becomes unstable and howling occurs. In this work, first we analyze a general multiple microphone audio processing system, where a cancellation system using adaptive filters is used to cancel the effect of acoustic feedback. We introduce and derive an accurate approximation of a frequency domain measure—the power transfer function—and show how it can be used to predict system behaviors of the entire cancellation system across time and frequency without knowing the true acoustic feed-back paths. Furthermore, we consider the biased estimation problem, which is one of the most challenging ...

Guo, Meng — Aalborg University


Signal processing algorithms for wireless acoustic sensor networks

Recent academic developments have initiated a paradigm shift in the way spatial sensor data can be acquired. Traditional localized and regularly arranged sensor arrays are replaced by sensor nodes that are randomly distributed over the entire spatial field, and which communicate with each other or with a master node through wireless communication links. Together, these nodes form a so-called ‘wireless sensor network’ (WSN). Each node of a WSN has a local sensor array and a signal processing unit to perform computations on the acquired data. The advantage of WSNs compared to traditional (wired) sensor arrays, is that many more sensors can be used that physically cover the full spatial field, which typically yields more variety (and thus more information) in the signals. It is likely that future data acquisition, control and physical monitoring, will heavily rely on this type of ...

Bertrand, Alexander — Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

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