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Noise-reduction hearing aid gets a grant boost

December 9, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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The National Institutes of Health has awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant to Bedford, Mass.-based STAR Analytical Services for the development of a hearing device that will allow the hearing impaired to hear conversations in noisy environments.

Many older adults find it difficult to hear conversations while trying to block out extraneous noises. Standard hearing aids may help, but they are designed to amplify all sounds.

STAR began working on an audio device that creates a virtual sound field that suppresses distracting sounds while enhancing information-bearing signals. The new grant will advance the project into phase two.

"The goal of the design is to automate much of the complexity of acoustic source separation, to make it simple for a user to control the system through an app and to deliver an improved conversation capability," said chief scientist Dr. Joel MacAuslan in a press release. "The app will be simple to set up, simple to integrate with other personal devices, and most importantly, simple to suppress irrelevant background sounds."