Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

3D Tune-In — Result In Brief

Project ID: 644051
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.1.4.
Country: United Kingdom
Domain: Health, Society, Digital Economy

Hearing aid users learn through video games

Hearing loss is common among Europe’s aging population, but correctly using advanced digital hearing aids can prove difficult for some users. An EU-funded initiative has worked with the video games industry to offer novel solutions.
Hearing aid users learn through video games
Modern hearing aids boast many useful features to improve and customise the hearing of users, like reducing background noise, enhancing specific sounds or adapting to certain environments. Unfortunately, these functions can be difficult to understand, and many users employ their digital hearing aid as if it is an analogue one.

The Horizon 2020 project 3D Tune-In addressed this challenge by bringing together stakeholders from the video game industry, academia, hearing aid manufacturers and end users to produce digital games on hearing loss and using hearing aid technologies.

Via a participatory-design process, the initiative enabled end-users to explore, review and customise hearing aid devices for different scenarios. “It also allowed individuals with no hearing impairment to better understand how hearing loss can affect everyday activities, and how a hearing aid can improve this situation,” says project coordinator Dr Lorenzo Picinali.

An immersive experience

Project partners worked with video gaming SMEs to explore new non-leisure applications concerning hearing loss and hearing aid technology with the support of the scientific community. It also helped hearing aid providers evaluate and demonstrate the various functionalities of their products and improve their services.

Researchers developed the 3D Tune-In C++ Toolkit, a library that provides 3D audio simulations for both loudspeakers and headphones with a high level of realism and immersiveness. This enables users to simulate hearing aids within the virtual environment, as well as different typologies and levels of hearing loss. An easy-to-use test-app interface allows the Toolkit to be used by hearing aid users, audiologists and any other interested party without needing to go through complex code and settings.

Users can also simulate their specific hearing loss and demonstrate to their friends and family members how complicated it is to understand speech when other noises are present, as happens for example at the dinner table. “The Toolkit test-app can be downloaded and used for free directly from the project website, while the open-source code can be accessed from our GitHub account,” explains Dr Picinali.

Multiple applications

Project partners also created five applications aimed at different groups of the hearing impaired and non-hearing-impaired communities. ‘Musiclarity’ (is a web-based app that supports hearing impaired individuals and hearing aid users in listening to music. ‘Dartanan’ is a mobile app for children that helps them learn about the functionalities of their hearing aid while playing a fun and engaging game.

The ‘Play&Tune’ app is specifically designed for adult hearing aid users, guiding them through the different functionalities of the hearing aid using a simple and engaging interface. Darius Adventure is a mobile app for children without hearing problems, which educates them about living with a hearing impairment, simulating the presence of hearing loss and engaging the child to try different hearing aids and communication strategies to improve their hearing.

AudGamPRO is a loudspeaker-based desktop application for replicating the acoustic conditions of real-life scenarios that allows audiologists to verify that hearing aids have been fitted properly. “Using the Toolkit, it is possible to simulate complex listening environments like a train station or a noisy restaurant and demonstrate how a hearing aid can improve the situation without having to fit a real device, but just using our virtual one,” comments Dr Picinali.

3D Tune-In will therefore benefit hearing aid users, hearing impaired individuals, audiologists, and the public. “By facilitating the successful exploitation of existing, overlooked or neglected functionalities of hearing devices and optimising their potential will greatly improving people’s quality of life, and their interactions with other people and their surrounding environment,” Dr Picinali concludes.

Keywords

3D Tune-In, hearing aid, app, video game, digital
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