Some 80 per cent of adults aged between 40 and 64 find it hard to follow conversations in noise – with over 200 million people worldwide looking for a solution, according to the Cambridge-based company’s research. Aiso for Hearing has been demonstrated to improve speech understanding in noisy environments from five per cent to 98 per cent.
Assistive listening technologies, based on beamforming and noise suppression, provide a partial solution to the cocktail party problem. When hearing aids are used in noisy environments, they tend to amplify all the sounds – including the background noise – so the user still finds it difficult to follow the conversation.
Aiso for Hearing separates the speech signals from the surrounding noise, allowing a user to hear individual voices clearly, with the technology giving an improvement in the speech-to-noise ratio (SNR) of up to 30 decibels (dBs) compared with improvements ranging between only 2-4dBs for the directive beamformers typically found in hearing aids.
Aiso for Hearing is a software solution which can be integrated into multi-microphone devices – including smartphones and hearing solution products – to give them enhanced assistive listening capabilities.
AudioTelligence claim Aiso for Hearing is unique because it uses a combination of patented blind source separation and noise suppression for a two-pronged approach to the cocktail party problem. The technology first analyses the acoustic scene, separating sound sources and isolating the voices of interest. It then uses noise suppression techniques to reduce the background noise.
The company added that their technologies have been developed with very low latency (5ms), which they said is crucial for assistive listening solutions that need to work in real time and avoid ‘lip sync’ issues.
AudioTelligence has produced a prototype tabletop device to showcase this groundbreaking technology.
In a statement, Ken Roberts, CEO of AudioTelligence said: "Our alternative very low latency approach separates voices from noise, improving speech intelligibility, whereas other solutions tend to just amplify sound from a particular direction. At the same time, Aiso for Hearing suppresses background noise, minimising the effort needed to follow a conversation and reducing listening fatigue. And if there are multiple conversations happening around them, the user can pick which one they wish to focus on, eliminating the unwanted speech.
"Our technology portfolio is the result of more than 12 years of research into the most effective approaches for extracting clean speech signals in complex acoustic scenes. This has enabled us to develop assistive audio technology to solve the cocktail party problem and help 200 million people worldwide to join the conversation."