2009-11-17

Monaural and binaural beamforming for hearing aids

Dr.-Ing. Henning Puder, Siemens Audiologische Technik

7 Dec 2009, 17:00; Location: S4|10-1

Hearing impaired people suffer from significant problems of understanding speech in noisy environments. The damage of the outer hair cells in the cochlear causes a reduced frequency resolution or higher frequency masking of the auditory perception, respectively. The only possibility to compensate for this effect is to offer people a signal with reduced noise, meaning a signal at a higher signal-to-noise (SNR). Beamforming is currently still the only solution available to objectively enhance speech intelligibility.

In the first part, monaural beamforming techniques will be explained. They combine the signals of two or up to three microphones of one hearing aid in order to amplify signals from a desired direction – usually the front direction – and to attenuate ambient signals. The limited microphone distance and the limited allowed computational complexity are the main challenges for hearing aids applications.

 The second part of this paper is dedicated to future binaural applications of beamforming in hearing aids, meaning the design of beamformers based on the combination of the hearing aid microphones of both hearing aids. The concept is to apply a binaural beamformer in order to further reduce interferers and to profit from the larger microphone distance compared to single device applications. Main roadblocks to an application in products are still the wireless data transmission between the hearing aids, head shading, and the generation of a binaural output, i.e. a signal for both ears. Especially binaural cues have to be preserved to allow the hearing aid user to localize sound sources correctly. Different solutions approaches with their specific advantages and disadvantages will be explained.

Category: CE Seminar

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