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Improving Mobile Phone Speech Recognition by Personalized Amplification: Application in People with Normal Hearing and Mild-to-Moderate Hearing Loss

Kam, Anna Chi Shan; Sung, John Ka Keung; Lee, Tan; Wong, Terence Ka Cheong; van Hasselt, Andrew

doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000371
e-Research Articles

Purpose: In this study, the authors evaluated the effect of personalized amplification on mobile phone speech recognition in people with and without hearing loss.

Methods: This prospective study used double-blind, within-subjects, repeated measures, controlled trials to evaluate the effectiveness of applying personalized amplification based on the hearing level captured on the mobile device. The personalized amplification settings were created using modified one-third gain targets. The participants in this study included 100 adults of age between 20 and 78 years (60 with age-adjusted normal hearing and 40 with hearing loss). The performance of the participants with personalized amplification and standard settings was compared using both subjective and speech-perception measures. Speech recognition was measured in quiet and in noise using Cantonese disyllabic words. Subjective ratings on the quality, clarity, and comfortableness of the mobile signals were measured with an 11-point visual analog scale. Subjective preferences of the settings were also obtained by a paired-comparison procedure.

Results: The personalized amplification application provided better speech recognition via the mobile phone both in quiet and in noise for people with hearing impairment (improved 8 to 10%) and people with normal hearing (improved 1 to 4%). The improvement in speech recognition was significantly better for people with hearing impairment. When the average device output level was matched, more participants preferred to have the individualized gain than not to have it.

Conclusions: The personalized amplification application has the potential to improve speech recognition for people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss, as well as people with normal hearing, in particular when listening in noisy environments.

1Department of Special Education and Counselling, 2Centre for Brain and Education, The Education University of Hong Kong, Tai Po, Hong Kong; 3Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, and 4Department of Electronic Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Tai Po, Hong Kong.

This research was funded by the Mobile Manufacturers Forum.

All authors contributed equally to this study.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Received May 21, 2015; accepted August 9, 2016.

Address for correspondence: Anna Chi Shan Kam, Department of Special Education and Counselling, The Education University of Hong Kong, 10 Lo Ping Road, Tai Po, N.T., Hong Kong. E-mail:

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