Meis, M. and Appell, J.--E. and Hohmann, V. and v. Son, N. and Frowein, H. and Oester, A.-M. and Hein, A.
European Conference on eHealth 2007
In this paper the concept and architecture of a monitoring and assistant system for people with hearing deficiencies will be described and a first user study will be presented. Core of this concept is the implementation of algorithms that are usually used in hearing aids at a central Home Information and Communication (HIC) platform. This platform integrates formerly separated devices like TV, telephone,and home automation. Thereby, the TV becomes the central human machine interface of the household linking together most of the acoustic inputs listened to by the hearing impaired in his/her home environment. Using the central HIC platform the acoustic inputs can be amplified and adapted according to the specific hearing impairment and the individual thresholds of hearing. These thresholds will be estimated during the initial diagnosis at the audiologist and transmitted to the HIC platform. Supportive Audio Signal Processing (SASP) algorithms are used to fine-tune the amplification according to the acoustic situation of the living room. These fine-tuning, frequent tests of speech understanding and monitoring of the individual adjustment of volume and sound controller are used as a feedback to the audiologist. In this way the transition from mild to moderate or severe hearing loss can be supervised, the use of hearing aids can be motivated and the adjustment of hearing aids can be improved and adapted to the individual situation of the patient. The ideas of this sound processing and alerting system at home, the so called Hearing at Home System (HaH) were presented to 62 hearing aid users and non-users ("young-old" to "old-old"; mean age: 69yrs.) of three countries (Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany) with a different degree of hearing loss (from slight to moderate). The first results of the user requirement study showed, that most of the users will benefit from the HaH environment system, and the results are very useful for further research and development, also in the realm of tele-monitoring applications.