Short Course


Providence, Rhode Island

Short Course on the Recent Technologies for Hearing Assistance


The first commercial hearing aid with completely digital signal processing (DSP) was introduced in 1996. Since then, the processing power of such devices and the complexity of the employed signal processing algorithms have steadily increased. Today, all major brands offer a range of fully digital devices, and hearing aids with analogue processing of signals have become rare. DSP allows for a variety of novel processing schemes for improved rehabilitation of hearing impairment that cannot be realized using analogue technology, including feedback control and management, automatic classification of the acoustic environment, multi-channel amplitude compression, speech enhancement and single-channel and multi-channel noise reduction. Recent Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN) technology allows for the transmission of audio and control signals across hearing devices attached to both ears, enabling true binaural signal processing. Thus, hearing aid technology has evolved rapidly in the last decades and is still a very active field of research and development. Although acoustic communication has improved by recent DSP, there is room for improvement, particularly in challenging acoustic conditions characterized by excessive noise and reverberation. Techniques such as “Computational Auditory Scene Analysis” (CASA) might help in closing the gap further.


To provide a comprehensive overview of the current state and the perspectives of digital signal processing in hearing devices. In particular processing principles will be introduced, and experimental performance data will be shown. Major challenges of improving acoustic communication in challenging acoustic conditions will be identified. CASA techniques for tackling these challenges will be discussed.


The short course will be taught by a team of instructors with expertise in various aspects of hearing research and acoustic signal processing. Birger Kollmeier, PhD, MD, is a professor of Medical Physics at Oldenburg University in Germany and chairman of the German Cluster of Excellence “Hearing4all.” He has been engaged in research in audiology, psychoacoustics, speech, and audio processing for more than 30 years and has an excellent publication record in these fields. He is a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and has received numerous prizes and awards. Volker Hohmann, PhD, is a professor of Applied Physics at Oldenburg University in Germany and is an internationally renowned expert in auditory modeling and signal processing for hearing devices. Both instructors are involved in building up and directing several research groups for fundamental, applied and translational research in hearing technology, including the Center for Hearing Research at the University of Oldenburg, Hörzentrum Oldenburg GmbH, HörTech gGmbH, and the Fraunhofer project group for hearing, speech and audio technology. Dr. Kollmeier and Dr. Hohmann received the German President’s Award for Technology and Innovation in 2012 for their project “Binaural Hearing Aids - Stereo Hearing for Everyone”, together with Dr. T. Niederdränk from Siemens.


Sunday, 4 May 2014, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Monday, 5 May 2014, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


1. Physiological basis of hearing impairment
2. Effect of hearing impairment on acoustic communication
3. Auditory models of hearing impairment
4. Sound field properties of typical acoustic communication conditions
      a. Effect of sound source superposition
      b. Effect of reverberation
      c. Interaural differences
5. Principles of signal processing for hearing devices
      a. Feedback control and management
      b. Automatic classification of the acoustic environment
      c. Multi-channel amplitude compression
      d. Speech enhancement
      e. Single-channel noise reduction
      f. Multi-channel noise reduction / spatial processingg. Binaural processing
6. Experimental evaluation of DSP in hearing aids – benefit in challenging acoustic conditions
7. Models of “Auditory Scene Analysis” and possible applications to DSP in hearing devices
8. Summary


The full registration fee is USD$300 (USD$125 for students) and covers attendance, instructional materials and coffee breaks. The number of attendees will be limited so please register early to avoid disappointment. Only those who have registered by 7 April 2014 will be guaranteed receipt of instruction materials. There will be a USD$50 discount off the full registration fee (discount does not apply to student fee) for registration made prior to 7 April 2014. Full refunds will be made for cancellations prior to 7 April 2014. Any cancellations after 7 April 2014 will be charged a USD$25 processing fee. Register online or use the downloadable registration form. If you miss the preregistration deadline and are interested in attending the course, please send an email to