ReSound's enhanced directional strategy with new binaural beamformer leads to vastly improved speech recognition in noise - ReSound 360 All-Around.
Hearing aids can improve many aspects of life quality for users, but hearing well in noise remains an area where users may struggle.
Directional microphones in hearing aids can help but also have the potential to interfere with the users’ ability to follow conversations or keep tabs on their environment. An unwanted impact on sound quality can also be a drawback.
The Organic Hearing philosophy followed by ReSound guides a binaural strategy for applying directionality that considers how the brain naturally uses different ways of listening depending on users’ listening goals in different situations and users’ sound quality preferences.
With the OMNIA, ReSound introduces enhanced directional technology and better automatic switching control. In this post, we describe how ReSound 360 All-Around and Front Focus can provide an astounding 150% improvement in speech recognition in noise compared to legacy technology while still allowing for auditory awareness of the surroundings.
Wearing hearing aids improves the hearing-related quality of life and the ability to communicate. People who wear hearing aids often report that the enrichment they have experienced makes them wish they had not waited so long to acquire them. Further, they recognize that not adopting hearing aids when they are needed is more stigmatizing than using them.
Although there are many positive effects of wearing hearing aids, they can still be improved. Many ideas for improving hearing aids focus on the continued issue of helping people hear better in noisy situations.
Directional microphones in hearing aids are a technology that is proven to increase the signal-to-noise ratio and speech recognition for speech in front of the hearing aid user.5 Much attention has been dedicated to exploring factors that affect the benefit of directionality, and development efforts have largely focused on how to make them work even better.
Driven by the Organic Hearing philosophy, ReSound has followed a unique path in applying directional microphones in hearing aids that supports the ways that people naturally listen in different types of situations. This involves considering not only the acoustics of the environment but also the listening intent of the person in that situation could be.
For example, imagine stopping at a busy café with a few friends. There are at least three distinct listening goals that would be relevant in this situation. First, you need to place your order and pay for it, which requires focusing on the person who waits on you. Second, you may chat with one of your friends while also listening for your name to be called when your order is ready. This requires selective attention to your friend while also monitoring the environment to catch your name being called. Finally, you will want to follow the lively conversation with your friends when you sit down and enjoy your order. This requires distributing and shifting your attention.
In all these cases, the acoustic environment does not change much, but how you are using your hearing does. Recent research is shedding light on how our brains act differently depending on how we want to listen. Studies using physiological methods to measure brain activity when different types of listening strategies are used indicate that the specific strategy differentially activates areas of a connected network of brain regions responsible for the auditory association, attention, and speech processing.
This further suggests the importance of not applying a “one-size-fits-all” approach to directionality where it is assumed that a user’s listening goals depend only on the acoustic environment. The ReSound strategy for applying directional microphone technology is to automatically select one of three listening modes that are most likely to provide benefits without interfering with the user’s listening goals in their current surroundings.
ReSound 360 All-Around TECHNOLOGY UPDATES
With OMNIA, ReSound introduces three important updates to the technology that enables the directional strategy:
1. An improved weighted binaural beamformer with better resolution that provides a stronger directional response.
2. Streaming of sound between the hearing aids that ensure audibility and awareness all around.
3. A new steering system that selects and maintains the best listening mode even in unstable sound backgrounds.
A new automatic program, 360 All-Around, incorporates all these improvements. A new user-selectable program, Front Focus, provides additional benefits compared to the legacy Ultra Focus program due to the higher resolution binaural beamformer.
The 360 All-Around automatic directional program and the user-selectable Front Focus in the ReSound OMNIA offer technological improvements compared to legacy directional features. These include binaural beamforming with higher resolution, ear-to-ear streaming of sound to optimize situational awareness, and a new steering system that controls switching between listening modes. Two listening experiments tested the potential benefit of the improvements for both on-axis (in front) and off-axis listening in noise. They showed that the enhanced binaural beamformer gives an improvement of 150% compared to legacy technology in the tested condition and that audibility for sounds not in front is preserved. These results suggest that 360 All-Around and Front Focus will provide even better support for hearing aid users to apply natural listening strategies in their daily lives than with legacy technology.