University of Minnesota
Institute of Technology
myU OneStop

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Challenges, solutions and future directions in signal processing research for modern digital hearing aids

Dr. Tau Zhang
Manager - Signal Processing Group
Research Division, Starkey Labs

Since the first introduction of digital signal processing processors in hearing aids in the early 1990s, it has transformed the hearing aid industry fundamentally. Today, digital hearing aids utilize many modern signal processing algorithms including microphone array processing, environmental classification, multi-channel compression, noise suppression, dereverberation, etc. However, significant challenges still remain in speech understanding in noise, sound quality, ultra-low power system design and implementation. On the other hand, these challenges also present interesting opportunities. Advances in psychoacoustics and audiology continue to provide great insight into auditory perception and hearing impairment and spark interesting signal processing solutions. Wide adoption of ultra-low power wireless technology in the hearing aids has opened the door for many interesting signal processing algorithms in hearing aids, such as binaural processing and distributed processing algorithms. Development in ultra-low power miniature biosensors has attracted interest in hearing aid signal processing researchers. In this talk, the author will present a systematic overview of these challenges and solutions and talk about the future research directions in signal processing research in hearing aids.

Short Biography
Tao Zhang manages the Signal Processing Group in the Research Division at Starkey Laboratories, Inc.
He holds a B.S. degree in physics, a M.S. degree in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. degree in Speech and Hearing Science. His research interests include signal processing algorithms for hearing aid applications, ultra-low power, real-time embedded systems, acoustics and psychoacoustics.