Potential of Augmented Reality Platforms to Improve Individual Hearing Aids and to Support More Ecologically Valid Research

Ear and Hearing


An augmented reality (AR) platform combines several technologies in a system that can render individual “digital objects” that can be manipulated for a given purpose. In the audio domain, these may, for example, be generated by speaker separation, noise suppression, and signal enhancement. Access to the “digital objects” could be used to augment auditory objects that the user wants to hear better. Such AR platforms in conjunction with traditional hearing aids may contribute to closing the gap for people with hearing loss through multimodal sensor integration, leveraging extensive current artificial intelligence research, and machine-learning frameworks. This could take the form of an attention-driven signal enhancement and noise suppression platform, together with context awareness, which would improve the interpersonal communication experience in complex real-life situations. In that sense, an AR platform could serve as a frontend to current and future hearing solutions. The AR device would enhance the signals to be attended, but the hearing amplification would still be handled by hearing aids. In this article, suggestions are made about why AR platforms may offer ideal affordances to compensate for hearing loss, and how research-focused AR platforms could help toward better understanding of the role of hearing in everyday life.

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