Richardson, Texas (June 29, 2009) - Noisy restaurants are one of the banes of people who have received cochlear implants.
Although the high-tech devices restore partial hearing, their microphones pick up everything going on around you - which in a busy restaurant means the clanging dishes, the birthday party at the next table and the waiters reciting lists of specials, all of which is jumbled together into an annoying roar.
But what if you could filter out all that noise, leaving just the pristine voice of the person sitting across from you? That's the idea behind much of the research Philip Loizou of UT Dallas has been pursuing for more than a decade - work that recently won him election as a fellow in the Acoustical Society of America, the top honor awarded in the field of acoustic signal processing.
"I aim to use engineering principles to help hearing impaired people better communicate in complex and challenging listening conditions," said Dr. Loizou, a professor of electrical engineering and holder of the Cecil and Ida Green Chair. "The ability to converse in extremely noisy situations is something we often take for granted, yet it is extremely challenging for people who are hearing impaired, such as those wearing cochlear implants."
The idea of removing external noise from an audio signal applies to lots of other technology as well, including cellphones and conventional hearing aids. Because all these devices digitize the audio they pick up, researchers should be able to digitally clean out the noise, and Dr. Loizou's research focuses specifically on developing algorithms that can do that, removing or suppressing unwanted sound.
"What motivates me the most is the very idea that our research on signal-processing algorithms can potentially improve the lives of people who are hearing impaired," he said.
Dr. Loizou holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Arizona State University. He joined the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas in 1999.
About UT Dallas:
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 14,500 students. The school's freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The University offers a broad assortment of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UT Dallas, please visit utdallas.edu.