Compensating Cocktail Party Noise with Binaural Spatial Segregation on a Novel Device Targeting Partial Hearing Loss
The ability of focusing on a single conversation in the middle of a crowded environment is usually referred at as the cocktail party effect. This skill exploits binaural cues and spectral features of a target speaker. Unfortunately, traditional acoustic prostheses tend to modify these cues in ways that the brain cannot recover. Social isolation is an inevitable consequence. In this work we tested the Glassense, an intelligent pair of glasses. Binaural input from microphones arrays is processed to spatially segregate the soundscape surrounding the listener, so that frontal speech sources are preserved, while competing sources from the sides and the back are attenuated, just as an “acoustical lens”. We report an increase in speech intelligibility by about 4 dB, measured as reception threshold, under severe noisy conditions. Our device can be a complementary input to existing acoustic prostheses, aimed at increasing spatial awareness of persons affected by partial hearing loss.
KeywordsHearing aid Disability Microphone arrays Beamforming Binaural Real time
We would like to thank Francesco Diotalevi for his contribution on hardware development, Petra Bianchi for her help in performing the audiometric measures and all our volunteers. This work is partly supported by the Ligurian PAR-FAS grant Glassense (CUP G35C13001360001) and partly by the EU FP7 grant BLINDPAD (grant number 611621).
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