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Synchrophone

Technology Overview

This is a unique solution that allows an individual to calibrate their audio-visual asynchronies in order to identify the personally optimised audio-visual synchronies to enhance hearing, perception and performance response.

This technology is based on the the principle of calibrating personal audio-visual asynchrony. The asynchrony is calibrated by analysing the profile of the user, thereby, offering the unique (customised) on-line (real-time) correction.

Technology Features & Specifications

The Problem

When we watch a person speak, our ears and eyes receive signals at different times. Research shows that audio-visual integration is naturally suboptimal in the majority of individuals. Despite this asynchrony, speech comprehension still benefits from integrating lip movements. Our research suggests that such speech-reading can benefit even more from artificially correcting the asynchrony.

This is particularly important for people with hearing aids or people with speech/hearing impediment. In addition, the increasing use of electronic media can significantly benefit from the availability of artificial asynchrony. Likewise, in sport, gaming, and interacting with machines and software, where visual events are often synchronised with sound.

The Solution

This is a unique solution that allows an individual to calibrate their asynchronies in order to identify the personally optimised audio-visual synchronies to enhance hearing, perception and performance response.

We are not aware of any such instrument that is customised for individual hearing needs; Current technological development has yielded incremental advances in sound quality, and reduced latency. Our research suggests that integrated audio-visual perceptions is perhaps the most overriding factor.

Potential Applications

  • Hearing aids / speech-reading aids: Our research shows that optimising audio-visual integration can improve comprehension of speech in background noise, which may be particularly beneficial for in the case of mild to moderate hearing impairment. Current technological investment has only yielded incremental advances in sound quality, and reduced latency, which our research also suggests might not even be so important. By taking vision into account, our discovery opens a hitherto unanticipated dimension for substantially improving hearing aid technology.
  • Reading skills: Our continuing research indicates that reading ability in normally-hearing adults correlates with individual differences in multisensory perception. This might be because, when learning to read, integrating visual speech cues may help to identify unfamiliar speech sounds, which may then be associated more readily with their written forms. Thus, optimisation of perception in childhood may thus benefit normally-hearing individuals in language acquisition, either early or later in life.
  • Language learning: Optimising audio-visual integration may benefit learning a new language, both early or later in life, by allowing unfamiliar speech sounds to be disambiguated more effectively by lip-movements. After individual profiling, the necessary audio-visual adjustments could be programmed into personal speech-reading aids, or popular multimedia language training software.
  • Gaming, VR, multimedia, and telecommunication: Individually calibrated adjustments could be easily embedded in personal devices, videophone and multimedia playback software, and internet browsers, to improve user experience, performance and immersiveness. Optimised perception may also enhance the impact of on-line advertising. Our research suggests that greater improvements in experience of audio-visual media may be obtained via our methods, than by continuing to invest in technology for synchronising video and audio signals.
  • Safety-critical and defence applications: Simple individualised adjustments to user interfaces, control panels, and augmented reality displays could potentially quicken reactions and appropriate behaviour towards important events; feedback from other modalities, such as haptic and tactile could be individually adjusted using similar methods to the ones we have developed, with further potential benefits.

Market Trends and Opportunities

Opportunity

We are looking to work with manufacturers of personal audio-visual equipment, hearing aids and producers of audio-visual training materials who would be interested in licensing the technology for use. There is also the opportunity to offer trials and consultancy using this technology.

Customer Benefits

Benefits

The benefit of this technology can be seen in any application that is delivering audio-visual sensory stimulation. The technology optimizes the ability to hear and perceive simultaneous audio and vision. It offers a unique offering to optimise technology display and audio visual teaching materials. This will be a significant performance enhancement on the treatment of asynchrony induced hearing deficiency. It is expected to be of benefit to manufacturers of hearing aids.

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