Archives for September 1996

Users Pleased With Performance of DSP-Assisted Hearing Aids

Cleveland, OH. Oticon Inc., developer of a recently-introduced digital hearing instrument called DigiFocus™, presented a forum here today at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Audiologists and researchers reported results of field testing by U.S. patients using DigiFocus.

Rreports and case studies presented at the forum underscored the flexibility of the individualized programming and the quality of the digital sound as potential benefits for a broad range of hearing impaired individuals.

“Every person has a unique hearing loss fingerprint,” explained Craig Newman, Ph.D., Head, Section of Audiology at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. “Until now, conventional analog-based hearing instruments allowed sound manipulation in only two to three hearing bands. Digital signal manipulation enables us to adjust sound in seven bands and more than 100 software-controlled parameters. As a result, we can adjust the computer precisely to compensate for the individual’s hearing loss.”

The DigiFocus digital audio processor has computing power amounting to 14 million instructions per second. It automatically adjusts to changing sound environments, improving a user’s ability to hear speech clearly in settings that are traditionally challenging for individuals with hearing loss, such as restaurants and cars.

“To a properly fitted individual, the introduction of the technology can be compared to the transition from a simple radio with only bass and treble controls to the sophistication of a fully digitized recording studio with its ability to adjust sound frequencies in a myriad of ways to achieve listening pleasure,” noted Peter Mark, M.D., of Oticon.

Researchers Johan Hellgren and Thomas Lunner of Linkoping University in Sweden, an internationally recognized leader in hearing research, shared results of a recently completed study of 33 satisfied users of conventional analog hearing aids who were fitted with the new DigiFocus. The study showed that 80 percent preferred the digital hearing aid over their own instruments.

South Korean Manufacturer Will Make Listen Up Players

Cupertino, CA. Audio Highway announced today that it entered into a manufacturing agreement with with KIA of South Korea and Sycom Technologies of Ewing, NJ. KIA will make all hardware components of the Listen Up™ portable web audio system announced last week by Audio Highway. Sycom will assist in the final design and release of the Listen Up Player.

“Given their vast resources, we’re extremely pleased to be working with KIA and Sycom,” said Nathan Schulhof, Audio Highway President and CEO. “Sycom’s strength in the portable audio device market, coupled with KIA’s a vast resources in the consumer related products market, as well as being a major manufacturer of automobiles, makes this an unbeatable relationship.”

Under terms of the agreement, Audio Highway’s Listen Up Players will be available at more than 3,000 locations throughout North America, when the system is released in January 1997. Locations will include consumer electronics stores, computer dealers, office product outlets, specialty retailers and other retail superstores. Audio Highway will also sell the player direct to consumers at a suggested retail price of $299 through a toll free sales line.

Go-Video to Add QSound 3D Audio to Dual-Deck VCR’s

Calgary, Canada. QSound Labs and consumer electronics manufacturer Go-Video have signed a licensing deal that will allow Go-Video to incorporate QSound’s simulated-3D audio technology in its home theatre and high-end digital TV products.

“Combining QSound’s patented 3D audio technology with Go-Video’s flair for product development and marketing seemed a perfect match,” said Roger B. Hackett, Chairman and CEO of Go-Video. “Their professional studio experience provides us with an opportunity to enter the audio market with high-performance niche products, which are always very attractive to our retail customers.”

The first product to take advantage of the deal will likely be a new entry in Go-Video’s successful line of Dual-Deck™ videocassette recorders.

DVD Roll-Out Parade Continues: Toshiba and Pioneer to Introduce Basic Players with CD Audio

Tokyo, Japan. Announcements out of Japan by the nation’s major consumer electronics manufacturers continue to firm up the roll-out plan for DVD, Digital Video Disc (sometimes called Digital Versatile Disc).

In the last few days, Toshiba and Pioneer have made formal announcements of hardware to be introduced in November. These announcements follow in the wake of similar statements earlier this month by Matsushita (Panasonic) and Hitachi. Among the key players in Japan, only Sony has said that it will delay the arrival of DVD due to an expected scarcity of software (video titles). Discs will be slow to arrive, due to disagreements over DVD-video’s copy protection scheme.

The first DVD player from Toshiba, model SD-3000, will go on sale November 1 in Japan at a price of approximately $700 (US). This will be a basic unit, with the ability to play DVD-video and CD-audio discs. Other features include a Dolby AC-3 decoder and S-video output. Toshiba also announced the first DVD-ROM player for computers, to be introduced on the same date.

Pioneer is bringing DVD to market in late October. The first Pioneer unit will be part of a new integrated stereo system, the FX7MD, which will include a receiver and six other components, in addition to the DVD unit. It will be introduced in Japan at a price of approximately $2,000 (US). Pioneer plans to sell the FX series DVD player separately at a price of $750 (US) starting in December.

So far, no manufacturer has announced a DVD player with support for any independent audio format other than the existing CD standard of 44.1 kHz, 16-bit resolution. However, most observers expect a DVD-audio standard or set of standards to be settled soon. Formats that may be supported by DVD’s high data transfer rate (six times faster than CD) and storage capacity (15 times greater than CD) include Dolby AC-3 5.1 channel surround, 2-to-8 channel DTS Coherent Sound, 20-bit 48 kHz PCM four channel, 24-bit 96 kHz stereo, and MPEG Audio (Musicam).

DVD players supporting some form of higher-quality audio are not expected on the market for at least a year.

Exciting New Audio Application Patented: Crab Bait!

A U.S. patent has been issued to one Mark Glatzer for “an device for use with a conventional crab trap.” The idea is, you encase an audio transducer in a material that makes it look like yummy crab food, stick it in your crab trap, hook it up to an amp and speakers, then sit back and listen. Hey presto, if a crab climbs into the trap, you’ll be the first to know!

Stay alert, though: apparently you have to trigger the trap door manually with a remote trigger line, when you hear your victim. Seems to me you could activate the trigger with audio, too… but maybe that’ll be Mark’s next patent.

If you’re keen to know more, it’s Patent No. 5555666, issued Sept.17, 1996.