Hearing aid manufacturers are constantly striving to improve speech intelligibility and comfortable listening, with researchers investigating computer-aided technology to design better hearing aids by improving sound transmission, reducing noise interference and feedback.
According to Poul Kristensen, Senior Acoustic Engineer at GN ReSound: “The big challenge in hearing aids is to have high gain and to have that, you need to be able to control your feedback. It’s a very small device for gain that is sometimes up to 80 dB, so you need many different tools to understand the feedback patterns.”
In hearing aids there are different vibration-borne feedback patterns, meaning the small speaker inside generates high pressure sound that makes the whole device vibrate. This vibration generates sound and if the sound path from the speaker to the output is not insulated you can also have direct sound feedback. For development prototypes this is especially important.
GN ReSound looked for a solution that could provide accurate conformal mapping on the small scale that they were looking for - and do so automatically and unattended. Seeing a robotic system already made for another customer, by Brüel & Kjær’s Customised Project Department, was important to GN ReSound’s decision, as it demonstrated the effectiveness of the system in action.
“At the time we were looking for a system it was taking an unpredictable amount of time in Research and Design to get the device performance and gain that we were looking for, because the feedback pattern is so difficult to understand,” said Poul Kristensen. “We had to do a lot of experiments without seeing the whole picture, so it took us a long time and the time taken wasn’t predictable. We wanted to get into a situation where things were more predictable, with a better understanding, so we could be more professional with better tools. This was one of the tools to build up our simulation models and understanding.”
GN ReSound preferred a robotic solution for the accuracy and repeatability that it could offer. They chose a turnkey solution from Brüel & Kjær using Statistically Optimised Near-field Acoustic Holography (SONAH) made by the Customised Project Department.
About Brüel & Kjær
Brüel & Kjær (bksv.co.uk) is a world-leading manufacturer and supplier of sound and vibration solutions for use in a wide range of applications including: environmental noise measurements, building acoustics, vibration measurements and quality control for use in the automotive, aerospace and consumer industries, as well as by local authorities.
We design and manufacturer sound level meters, microphones and accelerometers, conditioning amplifiers, calibrators, noise and vibration analysers and software.
Brüel & Kjær also runs a variety of training courses throughout the year, from basic introductions on noise and it’s effects to more specialised classes teaching customers how to get the most out of their equipment.
Free, online training courses - conducted by our expert engineers - run throughout the year too.