At Widex, we have for some time strived to increase our understanding of people’s auditory reality, the variety of acoustic environments experienced by an individual.
Auditory reality can be highly individual, and it is our firm belief that increased knowledge about people’s auditory reality will be beneficial when designing, fitting, and evaluating hearing devices.

The results from the two studies have proved important when designing and evaluating hearing-aid features. We are getting closer to a firm grip on auditory reality!

Study and background

Two studies performed at Widex external research laboratory ORCA Europe gave us some interesting findings. In the first study, the focus was on acoustical properties of auditory reality, and the goal was to learn more about speech and noise levels in real life. In the second study, the focus was on understanding some non-auditory aspects of auditory reality and the goal was to create a framework of common sound scenarios (called CoSS).

Acoustical properties of auditory reality

In the first study, everyday life recordings made by satisfied hearing aid users were analyzed, and the speech and noise levels were calculated.

When comparing the results of this study with a previous study performed at ORCA Europe, where noise reduction algorithms from various manufacturers were compared, it could be seen that some hearing aid noise reduction algorithms did not have an effect at these realistic speech and noise levels.

We were happy to see that Widex’ noise reduction algorithm reduced the noise in the situations found relevant in this study.

Even if speech and noise levels are central for the perception of a situation, the intention a listener has in the situation is also affecting the perception. Imagine sitting on a train. The sound from the train and from fellow travelers are heard. If you are trying to relax, you might find the speech in the background to be annoying, whereas if you want to listen in to a conversation, you might want the speech to be a bit louder. The same acoustical condition will be perceived and interpreted differently depending on the intention.

Understanding non-auditory aspects of auditory reality

In the second study, a literature search was performed to learn more about some non-auditory aspects of auditory reality. A framework of common sound scenarios (CoSS) was developed. The building blocks were intentions and tasks, and common sound scenarios were selected. These scenarios can be used when investigating hearing aid user’s auditory reality and when evaluating for instance a hearing aid feature.

Karolina Smeds, Director PhD ORCA Europe, Widex A/S & Florian Wolters, Research Engineer ORCA Europe