Tao Zhang

Tao Zhang
Tao Zhang (Starkey Hearing Technologies, USA)
Signal processing research for hearing aids: a practical perspective

Since the introduction of digital signal processors in hearing aids in the early 1990s, it has transformed the hearing aid industry fundamentally. Today, digital hearing aids utilize many modern signal processing algorithms including microphone array processing, environmental classification, multi-channel compression, noise suppression, and dereverberation. However, significant challenges still remain in speech understanding in noise, listening comfort in noisy environments, sound quality, ultra-low power system design and implementation. On the other hand, these challenges also present interesting opportunities. Advances in psychoacoustics and audiology continue to provide great insight and spark interesting signal processing solutions. Wide adoptions of ultra-low power wireless technology in the hearing aids have opened the door for many interesting signal processing algorithms in hearing aids including binaural processing and distributed processing algorithms. In this talk, I will present a systematic overview of these challenges and solutions, and discuss the future research directions in signal processing research for hearing aids.

Dr. Tao Zhang received a B.S. degree in physics with a major in acoustics from Nanjing University, Nanjing, China in 1986, a M.S. degree in electrical engineering from Peking University, Beijing, China in 1989 and a Ph.D. degree in speech and hearing science from the Ohio-State University, Columbus, OH, USA in 1995. In 2001, he joined Starke Laboratories, Inc., Eden Prairie, MN, USA, as a Sr. research scientist. From 2005 to 2008, he managed the Digital Signal Processing department at Starkey Laboratories, Inc. Since 2008, he has been managing the Signal Processing Research department at Starkey Hearing Technologies. He is the chair of IEEE Twin-City Signal Processing and Communications chapters. He has chaired various lecture and poster sessions at different conferences. Most recently, he organized the first research reception for signal processing researchers on hearing instruments and chaired the special session on signal processing research for hearing instruments at ICASSP 2013. He co-conceived and helped kick off the first BISH BASH event in the San Francisco Bay area in 2013. His current research interests include signal processing algorithms for hearing instruments, ultra-low power, real-time embedded systems, acoustics and psychoacoustics.

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