ROBOT: Hearing Aid With A Brain

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Mon Oct 22 2001 - 10:15:46 MDT

Artificial intelligence reaches the ear!op

Oticon New Zealand has launched the first "artificial intelligence" hearing
aid that works like a brain.

Adapto(tm) is a hearing aid that understands people, containing a host of
cutting-edge software including voice-activation.

"For those familiar with voice-activated mobiles and speech recognition
computer software, Oticon's Adapto(tm) may sound quite simple," says
audiologist and Oticon NZ General Manager, Karen Pullar. "Behind this apparent
simplicity lies months of high-tech international research to produce the
millennium's breakthrough in hearing care."

Adapto(tm) software not only recognises, but prioritises human speech signals
over other sounds in the environment.

"This is exactly what the brain does in people with normal hearing, enabling
us to avoid listening fatigue by canceling out non-speech sounds," she said.
"Adapto automatically adapts to its surroundings and, unlike traditional
digital hearing aids, is programmed to reflect the aspirations, lifestyle and
preferences of each individual."

Several advanced audiological features mean that for the first time, hearing
aid users can experience completely natural sound without occlusion - that
"speaking in a barrel" effect.

"We find that many hearing aid users are uncomfortable with the unnatural
sound effect of their own voice, or when chewing. Adapto(tm) overcomes this
with a dynamic feedback cancellation system that does not compromise
audibility or speech understanding," said Ms Pullar.

Further software advances mean a radical new fitting programme for hearing
care professionals. Genie is the programme that totally personalises every
fitting, allowing for an unheard-of range of variables to be incorporated,
such as prior hearing aid experience, age, lifestyle and audiogram.

Ms Pullar says that many of New Zealand's 450,000 hearing impaired people will
benefit from the artificial intelligence revolution in hearing care.

"This will be of interest to people who wear their hearing aids behind or
inside their ears," she said.

New Zealand trials are set to begin in November, followed by customised
training offered to all hearing care clinics.

"We aim to complete our trials and training before making Adapto(tm) widely
available from February 2002," said Ms Pullar.

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Useless hypotheses, etc.:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism, GAC, Cyc, Eliza, cryonics, individual
uniqueness, ego, human values, scientific relinquishment

We move into a better future in proportion as science displaces superstition.

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