The Mind-Controlled Hearing Aids Available In Near Future

The Mind-Controlled Hearing Aids Available In Near Future

Columbia engineers develop new AI technology that amplifies correct speaker from a group; breakthrough could lead to better hearing aids.

image

Using AI, Brain Sensors, to Focus on Specific Voices

Known by many as the the cocktail party effect, scientists have worked for decades to improve a hearing aid wearer’s ability to understanding specific voice in the presence of other similar voices. The brain-controlled hearing aid appears may have cracked this problem using a combination of artificial intelligence and sensors designed to monitor the listener’s brain activity.

The hearing aid first uses an algorithm to automatically separate the voices of multiple speakers. It then compares these audio tracks to the brain activity of the listener. Previous work by Mesgarani’s lab found that it is possible to identify which person someone is paying attention to, as the person’s brain activity tracks the sound waves of that voice most closely.

Though still in early stages of development, the technology is a significant step toward better hearing aids that would enable wearers to converse with the people around them seamlessly and efficiently. This achievement is described today in Science Advances.