Wireless Digital Link Between Hearing Aids

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: N/A
Contract: 9R42AG033910-02A1
Agency Tracking Number: DC008219
Amount: $828,381.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2008
Solitcitation Year: 2008
Solitcitation Topic Code: N/A
Solitcitation Number: PHS2007-2
Small Business Information
Duns: 927303412
Hubzone Owned: Y
Woman Owned: Y
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Y
Principal Investigator
 (612) 452-0478
Business Contact
Phone: (763) 463-4814
Email: thendrickson@ame-corp.com
Research Institution
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This proposed project will create an ultra-low power, digital wireless transceiver as an integrated circuit (IC) which will enable communication between hearing aids worn in the left and right ears in a binaural system. Wireless synchronization between the digital signal processors of two hearing instruments is a new technology for next generation hearing instruments. Approximately 70% of fittings in the US market are binaural fittings. Unfortunately, the benefits of bin aural hearing, i.e., improved signal-to-noise ratio, auditory localization, loudness summation, reduction of head shadow effect, and improved sound quality, are reduced if the balance between the hearing instruments is altered after fitting and/or the hear ing aid algorithms in each respective aid reach different conclusions about the audio environment. Hearing aids that incorporate the proposed IC will be able to communicate with each other, thereby maintaining balance, synchronizing digital signal processi ng and simultaneously reaching the same conclusions about the audio environment. AME Corp. will partner with the University of Minnesota. The completed phase I program established the feasibility of using a novel ultra-wideband impulse radio transceiver in this hearing aid application. Circuit level simulations and results from the phase I study demonstrate that this technology will allow an order of magnitude reduction in the power consumption of the transceiver function. In addition to these efforts, a re cent study performed at the University of Minnesota investigated the mitigation of the adverse effects of a nearby ground plane on antenna performance by redesigning the antenna structure to accommodate the presence of the ground plane. These results will allow us to develop antenna structures suitable for hearing aids that are in close proximity to the body. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE The project proposes to create an advanced binaural hearing aid system. According to the not-for-profit advocacy group Hard of Hearing Advocates, 25 million people in the United States are hearing impaired. Of that 25 million, approximately 20 million of the people do not use hearing aids and would benefit by using one.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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