Virtual audiovisual environments for hearing aid evaluation (and fitting)

Author: Dr Maartje Hendrikse1,2

1 Auditory Signal Processing Group, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany
2 Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Abstract: In everyday-life situations, people typically move their head while listening. This movement behavior is highly individual and can affect the performance of directional hearing-aid algorithms. In our group at Oldenburg University, we developed virtual audiovisual environments representing everyday-life listening situations. These virtual environments were used to study self-motion, i.e., focusing on the physical rather than psychological aspects of the movement behavior, of normal-hearing and hearing-impaired participants and hearing-aid users. Individual differences in self-motion were found, as well as group differences between younger normal-hearing, older normal-hearing, and hearing-impaired listeners. Wearing a hearing aid with or without an adaptive differential microphone did not affect the self-motion. Moreover, using acoustic simulations with the measured self-motion data, it was predicted how a set of common hearing-aid algorithms would perform in terms of noise-suppression in the virtual environments under the measured self-motion. Results showed that individual differences in self-motion can affect the noise-suppression performance of directional hearing-aid algorithms and that the performance of such algorithms is reduced on average compared to static laboratory-like conditions. The group differences in self-motion related to hearing-impairment were beneficial for the noise-suppression performance of an adaptive differential microphone, but hearing-aid users did not adapt their self-motion when using this algorithm. Besides explaining these results, the talk will also focus on the challenges faced when developing the virtual environments, the limitations of the virtual environments, and possibilities for the future, such as the usage in the clinic for the fitting of hearing aids and cochlear implants.