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New software 'hearing dummies' pave the way for tailor-made hearing aids
Date:6/13/2011

New software 'hearing dummies' are part of cutting-edge research that promises to revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of hearing impairments.

The work could also be used in the long-term to develop a radical new type of hearing aid that can be customised using the hearing dummy to meet the different needs of individual patients. If the procedures gain clinical acceptance, a device could reach the market within 4 years.

The research is being carried out by a team at the University of Essex with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The aim has been to enable hearing aids to be carefully calibrated so that they address the particular underlying hearing condition affecting each individual patient; and to ensure that they tackle the most common problem affecting hearing-impaired people sound interference, which leads to an inability to follow conversations in noisy environments.

People also differ in how much they are affected by noisy environments, which is why developing a tailor-made approach represents such a significant breakthrough.

"Today's hearing aids don't help to separate sounds they just amplify them," says Professor Ray Meddis, of the University's Department of Psychology, who has led the work. "So they often make everything too noisy for the wearer, especially in social situations like parties, and some wearers still can't make out what people are saying to them. They find the whole experience so uncomfortable that they end up taking their hearing aids out! This discourages them from going to social occasions or busy environments and may result in them withdrawing from society."

The first key advance has been the development of unique computer models (or 'hearing dummies') that can use the information collected during the tests to simulate the precise details of an individual patient's hearing.

By altering individual mathematical algorithm
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Contact: EPSRC Press Office
pressoffice@epsrc.ac.uk
44-179-344-4404
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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