I have accepted a faculty position at the University of Illinois Chicago!

I am delighted to announce that I have accepted a position as an assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois Chicago! It is also a first-of-its-kind dual appointment with the Discovery Partners Institute, a new University of Illinois innovation hub in Chicago dedicated to equitable economic development.

I look forward to expanding my research program on assistive and augmentative listening technology. As I establish my independent research career, I hope to build new collaborations with audiologists and hearing scientists to investigate the clinical applications of advanced audio technology. I will also collaborate with other scientists in the Applied Research and Development group at DPI on broader problems in human-centric computing, sensor networks, robotics, privacy, and accessible technology.

I am currently seeking a few talented and passionate PhD students to help launch my new research group at UIC and DPI. If you are interested, please get in touch!

Over the next few weeks, I will be transitioning this website to a new UIC laboratory page.

Group Conversation Enhancement

This post accompanies two presentations titled “Immersive Conversation Enhancement Using Binaural Hearing Aids and External Microphone Arrays” and “Group Conversation Enhancement Using Wireless Microphones and the Tympan Open-Source Hearing Platform”, which were presented at the International Hearing Aid Research Conference (IHCON) in August 2022. The latter is part of a special session on open-source hearing tools.

Have you ever struggled to hear the people across from you in a crowded restaurant? Group conversations in noisy environments are among the most frustrating hearing challenges, especially for people with hearing loss, but conventional hearing devices don’t do much to help. They make everything louder, including the background noise. Our research group is developing new methods to make it easier to hear in loud noise. In this project, we focus on group conversations, where there are several users who all want to hear each other.

Conversation enhancement allows users within a group to hear each other while tuning out background noise.

A group conversation enhancement system should turn up the voices of users in the group while tuning out background noise, including speech from other people nearby. To do that, it needs to separate the speech of group members from that of non-members. It should handle multiple talkers at once, in case people interrupt or talk over each other. To help listeners keep track of fast-paced conversations, it should sound as immersive as possible. Specifically, it should have imperceptible delay and it should preserve spatial cues so that listeners can tell what sound is coming from what direction. And it has to do all that while all the users are constantly moving, such as turning to look at each other while talking.

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