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Low Complexity Beamformer structures for application in Hearing Aids
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Applied Signal Processing.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Background noise is particularly damaging to speech intelligibility for people with hearing loss. The problem of reducing noise in hearing aids is one of great importance and great difficulty. Over the years, many solutions and different algorithms have been implemented in order to provide the optimal solution to the problem.

Beamforming has been used for a long time and has therefore been extensively researched. Studying the performance of Minimum Variance Distortionless Response (MVDR) beamforming with a three- and four- microphone array compared to the conventional two-microphone array, the aim is to implement a speech signal enhancement and a noise reduction algorithm. By using multiple microphones, it is possible to achieve spatial selectivity, which is the ability to select certain signals based on the angle of incidence, and improve the performance of noise reduction beamformers.

This thesis proposes the use of beamforming, an existing technique in order to create a new way to reduce noise transmitted by hearing aids. In order to reduce the complexity of that system, we use hybrid cascades, which are simpler beamformers of two inputs each and connected in series. The configurations that we consider are a three-microphone linear array (monaural beamformer), a three-microphone configuration with a two-microphone linear array and the 3rd microphone in the ear (monaural beamformer), a three-microphone configuration with a two-microphone linear array and the 3rd microphone on contra-lateral ear (binaural beamformer), and finally four-microphone configurations.

We also investigate the performance improvement of the beamformer with more than two microphones for the different configurations, against the two-microphone beamformer reference. This can be measured by using objective measurements, such as the amount of noise suppression, target energy loss, output SNR, speech intelligibility index and speech quality evaluation. These objective measurements are good indicators of subjective performance. In this project, we prove that most hybrid structures can perform satisfyingly well compared to the full complexity beamformer.

The low complexity beamformer is designed with a fixed target location (azimuth), where its weights are calibrated with respect to a target signal located in front of the listener and for a diffuse noise field. Both second- and third- order beamformers are tested in different acoustic scenarios, such as a car environment, a meeting room, a party occasion and a restaurant place. In those scenarios, the target signal is not arriving at the hearing aid directly from the front side of the listener and the noise field is not always diffuse. We thoroughly investigate what are the performance limitations in that case and how well the different cascades can perform. It is proven that there are some very critical factors, which can affect the performance of the fixed beamformer, concerning all the hybrid structures that were examined.

Finally, we show that lower complexity cascades for both second- and third- order beamformers can perform similarly well as the full complexity beamformers when tested for a set of multiple Head Related Transfer Functions (HRTFs) that correspond to a real head shape.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 69
Keywords [en]
hearing aids, beamformers, MVDR algorithm, microphone arrays
National Category
Signal Processing
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-17612OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-17612DiVA, id: diva2:1297445
External cooperation
Oticon A/S
Subject / course
ET2566 Master's Thesis (120 credits) in Electrical Engineering with emphasis on Signal processing
Educational program
ETASB Master of Science Programme in Electrical Engineering with emphasis on Signal Processing
Presentation
2018-09-28, J3423 Aristoteles, Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 371 79, Karlskrona, 10:00 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-03-20 Created: 2019-03-19 Last updated: 2019-03-20Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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