New invention to protect iPod Generation ears

How loud do you have your iPod? If you couldn’t hear the question, you may be interested in a new way of processing sound invented by Dr Jorge Mejia of the HEARing Cooperative Research Centre (HEARing CRC).

‘Binge Listening’, a recent report by the National Acoustic Laboratories found that many young people are at risk of hearing loss from exposure to high-intensity music. Dr Mejia says his new technology can improve sound clarity while simultaneously protecting our ears from noise damage.

“People are exposing themselves to excessive noise – when they go to nightclubs or listen to loud music – that is damaging their hearing,” says Dr Mejia. “This technology will allow you to hear a friend talking in a nightclub clearly and at the same time protect your ears from other noises around you.”

Dr Mejia says that hearing aids incorporating this new technology will enable many hearing-impaired people to actually hear better than normal listeners in noisy environments. “They will work so well, people with normal hearing will want one,” he says.

Currently-available noise reduction technology is not sufficient for hearing-impaired listeners, says Dr Mejia, because it removes listeners’ ability to locate where sounds are coming from and to separate speech sounds from background noise.

“Communication is beyond hearing; it’s about interaction. This is a classical ‘cocktail party’ problem where your friends are all talking at the same time and you want to know who’s speaking and hear what they’re saying.”

Dr Mejia’s invention provides five times better speech clarity in noisy environments than current technology, without disrupting essential localisation cues.

The technology, which has been patented by the HEARing CRC, is expected to be available for application in hearing aids, hearing protection, iPods and other listening devices over the next two to four years.

“My goal is to enable everyone to hear as effectively as everyone else,” says

Dr Mejia, who believes a CRC is a unique environment in which to fulfil this ambition.

“A CRC, with its marriage of academic and commercial interests, is a unique organisation with respect to science in Australia,” says Dr Mejia. “CRCs have the capacity to bring basic research into fruition and make a real world difference.”

Contact information

Dr Jorge Mejia
Phone: (02) 9412 6873
Mobile: 0435132991
Skype: jorge.mejia19
Email: [email protected]

Professor Robert Cowan
Chief Executive Officer
The HEARing CRC
Phone: (03) 9035 5346
Mobile: 0418 780 198
Email: [email protected]

HEARing Cooperative Research Centre www.hearingcrc.org

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Dr Jorge Mejia

Dr Jorge Mejia