Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (香港科技大學) scientists have developed a hearing aid that performs 10 times better but at one-tenth the price of existing ones.
It is expected to be marketed in six to nine months at just US$80 (HK$624).
Most people suffering from hearing impairment in China are not using hearing aids, mainly because existing ones amplify all signals including background noise.
Incus Co Ltd, an HKUST technology start-up, successfully developed intelligent audio separation systems, which can boost hearing aid performance 10 times by separating background noises from target signal effectively.
The start-up was founded by Richard So Hau-yue (蘇孝宇), a professor in the university's industrial engineering and logistics management department, and his student Calvin Zhang Jiangang (張健鋼), a fresh graduate of the master’s programme in technology leadership and entrepreneurship.
So, an expert in audiology and virtual reality, has been studying how to imitate the functions of the ears and the auditory cortex in the brain with computer systems.
He came up with ideas and equations to solve the technical challenge four years ago, and Zhang was his first student who could solve them.
The team then built its own hearing aid system, comprising a mobile app and ear buds.
Target signals and background noises are separated into different channels, and the user could select the channel they wish to hear with the app.
An innovative online sales model will help reduce the price of the device to only a fraction of existing ones.
(The Standard, 19 December)
HKUST press release
Hong Kong innovation and technology