MobileEars: An app-based hearing aid

A lot of people could use some help with their hearing, but getting a hearing aid has traditionally been a big, time-consuming, and expensive step. As we reported earlier, the Oslo-based company Listen have therefore been developing an app in collaboration with SINTEF that turns your iPhone into a hearing aid.

Their first app, MobileEars, was released this week, and is now available for free download from the App Store. You can see a promotional video for the app below the break.

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Project: I Hear You! A new hearing service in Tanzania

Sharleen is an African girl, 9 years old, from a family of farmers. She is quite smart, but no longer goes to school.

Why? 

Sharleen has a hearing impairment, and couldn’t understand what the teacher was saying. Her father thought he needed her at home to look after the goats. Unfortunately, Sharleen is just one among many children lacking help.

WHO has estimated that over 5% of the world population – 360 million people – has a hearing impairment (328 million adult and 32 million children), and the majority of children with hearing impairment live in low-income countries. In contrast, less than 2% of the hearing aids produced in 2005 went to low income countries.

Traditional hearing devices are advanced equipment; expensive, fragile and not developed for the Third World. Specialised personnel and complex infrastructure in the individual fitting process is needed, reducing the usefulness of such complex hearing aids to a minimum in low-income countries, where trained people and specialists are scarce.

With funding from Norwegian Research Council, SINTEF’s project “I Hear You”, starting early 2017, aims to help children like Sharleen by ensuring access to education for the hearing impaired.

Read more…Project: I Hear You! A new hearing service in Tanzania

Video: Take care of your hearing!

Noise-induced hearing loss is a result of exposure to loud sounds over a long time, or to one extremely loud impulse. In addition to permanent loss of hearing, tinnitus is a common symptom. While this is the most common permanent injury in the world, it is also preventable through hearing protection equipment and safe working practices.

We have acted as scientific consultants for a new five-minute information video from Honeywell on this topic. You can see the entire video here!

Truls Gjestland, Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America

Our very own Truls Gjestland has been elected a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, by action of their Executive Council. This honour was bestowed on Truls due to the contributions that he has made throughout his career to research and standards development on transportation noise effects on communities.

The formal announcement and Fellowship certificate presentation will be made at the ASA meeting in Honolulu, on 30 November 2016.

Horn simulation using mode-matching

Horns are used in many fields, including musical wind instruments and loudspeakers. The physics in the two cases is of course the same: sound propagation in a flaring duct open at one end. Therefore we can in principle use the same simulation methods for both cases. But what we want to obtain from the horn simulation can be very different.

A very important requirement for horn loudspeakers is directivity control. This entails directing sound into a specific region in front of the horn, giving the same frequency response inside that region and little sound outside it. Any simulation method for horn speakers must be capable of predicting directivity. Horn speakers should not be resonant, but should present a constant and smooth acoustic load to the driving unit, so this is also an important, but somewhat less critical, factor in the design.

For wind instruments, we are usually interested in the resonance frequencies. This is important for the tone, intonation and playability, and it is useful if we can predict this when designing the instrument. Any simulation method must therefore be able to predict these frequencies accurately. Or we may have an old valuable instrument and want to find the internal shape without cutting it into pieces. Then we can use an optimization algorithm to solve the inverse problem of finding the internal shape from measured resonance frequencies. For this, the simulation method must be fast.

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A brief history of electroacoustics, pt. 9:
Horns: Cinema sound and large scale sound reproduction

The 1920s saw much development in horn loudspeakers, and loudspeaker in general. Western Electric already had their microphones, amplifiers, straight exponential horns, and very good balanced armature transducers. At this time, much research was also put into disc recording and reproduction at the Western Electric Engineering Department, and simultaneously, optical recording of sound was also in progress, using Wente’s Light Valve. The time seemed ripe to attempt sound film. The story has been told elsewhere, but in short, most of the industry turned down Western Electric’s offer. They “knew” sound film would not work. But the Warner Bros found in the WE system something that could help them beat the big guys in the industry, and after the success of their first sound film, the rest is history.

Read more…A brief history of electroacoustics, pt. 9:
Horns: Cinema sound and large scale sound reproduction

A brief history of electroacoustics, pt. 8:
Horns: Early development

It is hard to tell when horns first were used. They have been in use for thousands of years as instruments, and man must early have discovered the amplifying effect of a pair of cupped hands in front of his mouth, or behind his ears. Ear trumpets were early implementations of this, and the first hearing aids.

Horns were used on phonographs and gramophones from the start. This was the only way to get the required volume from the tiny motions of the needle. The theoretical understanding of horns was still small though, and most of the work was experimental. Early models used conical horns, but as theory progressed, the superiority of the exponential horn was recognized.

Read more…A brief history of electroacoustics, pt. 8:
Horns: Early development

Invitation to the 39th Scandinavian Symposium on Physical Acoustics

The 39th Scandinavian Symposium on Physical Acoustics will be held at Geilo Hotel from January 31 to February 3, 2016. This year it is organised by Ulf Kristiansen and Erlend Viggen, both at ARC. The theme for the meeting will as usual be physical acoustics, with emphasis on hydroacoustics, nonlinear acoustics, ultrasound, general sound propagation and applications in technology, medicine and fisheries.

The purpose of these meetings is primarily to stimulate contacts and exchange information between different Scandinavian teams working in this research area. Although the symposium is Scandinavian, foreign participants are most welcome, and the meeting language will be English. As usual, we expect a rather informal tone, the main goal being to create contacts, not only during sessions, but also by social activities, indoors and outdoors (cross country and downhill skiing). The meeting normally attracts about 50 participants holding about 25 talks throughout 5 sessions.

Read more…Invitation to the 39th Scandinavian Symposium on Physical Acoustics

A brief history of electroacoustics, pt. 7:
Loudspeaker enclosures

Reis’ telephone was perhaps the first loudspeaker of any kind, as it employed a magnetostriction driver mounted in a resonating box. But it would still take many years before inventors discovered the virtues of baffles and enclosures. As Hunt puts it, the baffle is probably the most frequently rediscovered feature of loudspeaker art. Stokes, in 1868, pointed out that the radiation efficiency could be improved by preventing air circulation around the edges of a vibrating surface (the acoustic short-circuit). Rayleigh, a few years later, gave the now classic analysis of the radiation from a piston in an infinite baffle. But by the time loudspeakers were being produced in great numbers, Rayleigh’s Theory of Sound had been out of print for more than two decades, and many inventors discovered the baffle before they discovered Rayleigh.

Read more…A brief history of electroacoustics, pt. 7:
Loudspeaker enclosures

A brief history of electroacoustics, pt. 6:
Various loudspeaker mechanisms

The invention of the telephone set off a wave of creativity, and almost all conceivable transducer mechanisms were tried out in the 1870s and 80s. Some of them developed into usable devices, others serve mainly as illustrations of man’s creativity. In this part, some of them will be presented, ranging from useful, mainstream designs to the downright bizarre.

Read more…A brief history of electroacoustics, pt. 6:
Various loudspeaker mechanisms