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Year: 2011-
Yoshihiro Kaneko
Kenji Suzuki
- Inho Chung (Faculty of Human Science)
- Cybernics
- Augmented Human

A light-emitting wearable device based on sound source direction


This study proposes a novel wearable device that augments the auditory awareness of hearing impaired people to help them identify the speaker during group conversations. A number of hearing impaired people are able to understand speech by using auditory-oral methods such as lip-reading, however they always need to watch the speaker closely. The proposed device estimates the direction of the sound source and indicates the estimated direction in real time with light-emitting diodes (LEDs), thus aiding hearing impaired people during group conversations. The device has 4 unidirectional microphones and estimates the sound source direction by comparing the signal amplitudes in each microphone. Hearing assistance devices are required to be small and wearable in order to assist anytime in daily life. The proposed device is small, wearable, and can easily be used in various situations.

Wwe focused on group conversations between hearing and hearing-impaired people who understand speech by using voice and lip-reading. We thus developed an assistive device that can help to solve the aforementioned problems. The device can assist the auditory awareness of hearing impaired-people. In particular, estimating speaker direction in real time and indicating this direction can clearly identify the current speakers, and help the hearing impaired person find the speaker and perform lip-reading easily.

Therefore, we propose a wearable device that is capable of estimating the sound source direction and indicating the direction by lighting up in real time. The advantage of the developed device was verified through a group conversation experiment with a hearing-impaired person. Ideally, the device should be small enough to attach to the body for continuous assistance anywhere in daily life. We believe that this system enhances the auditory awareness of hearing-impaired people as the user can perceive sound and its direction through visual sensations. Using this device, hearing-impaired people can achieve the ability of perception during group conversations.


UTThis is a collaborative work with Faculty of Human Science, University of Tsukuba.

  • Kaneko, Y., Chung, I., and Suzuki, K., "A Light-emitting Device for Supporting Auditory Awareness of Hearing Impaired People in Group Conversation," Proc. of IEEE International Conference on System, Man and Cybernetics, pp.3567-3572, 2013.
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