Volker Hohmann, from the University of Oldenburg in Germany, gives a talk on "Trends in Hearing Device Technology" on Tuesday February 21st 2012 at 12:00pm in room 55.410.
Abstract: Currently about 18% of the European population suffers from hearing loss and this percentage is steadily increasing due to the demographic aging trend. Hearing loss is associated with minor to severe limitations in acoustic communication and therefore limits participation in social life. Most complaints allude to difficulties in understanding speech in noisy and reverberant environments, limited communication over the phone, and almost all hearing impaired report problems with perceiving and enjoying music. Due to the technological progress of the last decades, hearing devices have improved significantly, and the ever-growing computational capabilities of digital hearing devices offers a promising future. Still, the current technology does not allow a complete hearing loss rehabilitation: In mild hearing losses, an individual audio amplification would be helpful to alleviate most communication problems, but current consumer technology such as TVs, mobile phones, MP3 players and public announcement systems does not support even basic individualized audio amplification. In cases of mild to moderate hearing losses, which are commonly treated with acoustic hearing aids, the challenge is to provide a sufficient improvement in the signal-to-noise ratio to restore speech communication in acoustically challenging situations and to individually modify music with the aim of making music consumption enjoyable again. In the less frequent cases of severe to profound hearing losses or deafness, which are usually treated with cochlear implants (a biomedical device that activates the acoustic nerve electrically by implanted electrodes), all previously mentioned communication problems are more pronounced. This calls for further research into device technology and improved signal processing. In my talk, I will give an overview of the current technology of hearing devices and discuss the major research challenges and promising approaches for a further improvement of the rehabilitation of hearing loss.
Biography: Volker Hohmann received the doctorate degree in Physics (Dr. rer. nat.) from the University of Göttingen, Germany in 1993. Since then, he has been a faculty member of the Physics Institute at the University of Oldenburg, Germany, and member of the Medical Physics Group (head: B. Kollmeier). He is active in undergraduate and graduate teaching in Physics, and his research expertise is in Acoustics and Digital Signal Processing with applications to signal processing in speech processing devices, e. g., Hearing Aids. In the private sector, he is head of R&D at HoerTech gGmbH, a leading non-profit research institute in the field of audiological and acoustical developments related to hearing systems. He was a guest researcher at Boston University, Boston, USA in 2000 and at the Technical University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain in 2008/2009. Dr. Hohmann obtained the Habilitation (maximum academic degree in Germany) in Applied Physics in 2007 and received the Lothar-Cremer price of the German acoustical society (DEGA) in 2008 for outstanding contributions to audiological acoustics and signal processing.