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Curtin thinking sound

Media release

Curtin University researchers are developing special ‘high noise communication devices’ to help hearing impaired people working in noisy work places.

Professors Sven Nordholm and Kevin Fynn have already had commercial success through the company Sensear, which has developed high noise communication devices that allow workers to communicate in noisy environments.

These devices are now being used by leading WA companies in mining, aviation, manufacturing and construction. They are also being used throughout the world by some of the worlds leading companies to solve their high noise communication challenges.

“Companies all over the world are buying our products, but we are always trying to improve them and a recent Australian Research Council grant is helping fund further innovations,” Professor Nordholm said.

The $358,000 Australian Research Council (ARC) grant began in January and will allow Curtin researchers to develop Sensear products to assist people with hearing loss.

“By advancing Sensear’s already impressive technologies, we may be able to develop better devices to allow those with hearing impairments to hear speech more clearly in high-noise,” Professor Nordholm said.

He said this advance, designed for people working in loud environments with hearing problems, was the logical next step in the research.

“People who work in loud environments can’t use hearing aids and earplugs or ear muffs at the same time,” he said.

“Using the Sensear technology, we will develop a system that will separate speech from background noise, and then boost it to allow the hearing impaired to hear in noisy environments.”

Founded in Perth in April 2006, Sensear is now selling its products globally through a network of leading distributors.

It uses the ground breaking Speech Enhancing Noise Suppression (SENS) technology ― sophisticated algorithms that isolate, clean and package speech while suppressing background noise to a safe level ― to differentiate between background noise and speech.

This technology has been incorporated into an innovative range of high noise communication devices, which enable face-to-face, mobile phone and two-way radio and short range communication. The new SDP model which was just released, enables workers to communicate in extreme noise environments approximating 120db.