AUDITO: A Web-based Listening Test System for Auditory Research with Cochlear Implant Recipients

Authors: Tobias Goehring1, Robert P. Carlyon1

1University of Cambridge

Background: Web-based and remote applications are widely introduced in audiology, driven by new technologies and increased demand. Auditory research has so far been reluctant to adopt online testing. We aimed to bring the advantages of online testing to cochlear implant (CI) research and developed a web-based test system called Audito. The goal was to facilitate data collection and collaboration in CI research by exploiting streaming technology.

Methods: Audito was developed to implement, manage and administer auditory perception tasks. It was designed to allow a variety of tests while being easy to use. No computer programming by the experimenter is required, and users can exchange test protocols and stimuli within the system to facilitate collaboration. Measures were taken to ensure signal quality over streaming. A study was performed to assess reliability and validity. Comparisons included the presentation of stimuli via cable vs streaming, and in-lab vs remote data collection. Tests were performed to measure speech perception in quiet and in noise with a group of 10 adult CI listeners.

Results: The Audito system worked reliably with various listening setups including desktop and laptop computers, tablets and smartphones with Bluetooth connectivity. The wireless connection measure was mostly reliable but false alarms occurred with higher levels of background noise. Acoustic quality was not reported to be different via Bluetooth streaming than via cable connection to the CI. Speech test results were consistent between test modalities.

Conclusions: Audito has been successfully validated to facilitate CI data collection. Other researchers implemented their studies and found it easy to use. By increasing accessibility, diversity and sample sizes, Audito can improve ecological validity, inclusion and real-world translation of CI research. It could be further expanded to serve clinical stakeholders and as platform for auditory rehabilitation training.