HBK empowering rapid audio advancements

27 Mar 2024
More productive
9 min read

Sound and vibration are critical to our quality of life. They affect us every day, from the smartphones we use and the cars we drive to the aircraft we fly in and the environment in which we all live. At Spectris Dynamics, we produce the world’s most accurate and advanced technology for measuring and managing the quality of sound and vibration.

These two examples show the breadth of our expertise and applications. We’re empowering rapid advancements in ways as diverse as improving the lives of people with hearing loss to equipping modern naval combat ships to manage their acoustic signature.

Revolutionising hearing aid development

Recent reports indicate that approximately 1.5 billion people worldwide experience some form of hearing impairment. This widespread issue is fuelled by factors such as an aging population and a significant surge in hearing loss among younger individuals, often attributed to excessive exposure to loud noise.

Consequently, the market for audiology devices is witnessing significant growth. At a leading global healthcare company, hearing aid developers and test engineers face a formidable challenge of staying at the forefront of technological advancements, while meeting user expectations for natural, comfortable sound quality and seamless communication. Additionally, they must address the increasing demand for personalised solutions and designs tailored to individual inner and outer ear conditions.

Benefits to the customer
Having robust systems in place that enable this company’s engineers to test, benchmark, ensure quality, and enhance product design is paramount. These systems must prioritise high-quality hearing reproduction while accommodating both traditional, standardised electroacoustic measurements and flexible, open processes that support the development of innovative hearing aid technologies and features.

To meet these requirements, the healthcare company employs a HBK Head and Torso
Simulator (HATS) for both R&D and the complex task of testing hearing aid features.
Optimised for the evaluation of audio devices placed in, on or near the ear, it provides an accurate representation of the experience realised in an average human ear. With a pair of hearing aids mounted on a HATS, the acoustic properties of the hearing aids can be measured from various directions, and in a range of background noise environments.

The healthcare company has recently acquired the latest high-frequency incarnation of HATS, extending the evaluation potential to encompass the full audio range and anthropomorphic ear canal to allow refinement of product geometry. High frequency HATS represents the culmination of more than ten years of research into human ear geometry and acoustic response and is the first major advance of HATS technology in 30 years. It’s recognised in the market as the state-of-the-art for evaluating human hearing perception.

The development of intelligent hearing aids that seamlessly adapt to the user’s sound environment is an immensely complex undertaking. Nevertheless, leveraging HBK solutions, the hearing healthcare engineers, working at the edge of what is technically possible, remain committed to their ongoing pursuit of enhancing speech comprehension for people with hearing loss and providing a life-changing solution for those in need.

Ensuring the acoustic stealth of modern naval combat ships

To maintain a naval vessel’s acoustic discretion, design engineers need to identify and assess all noise sources. Permanently installed systems monitor noise levels during operation and advise the crew when the acoustic signature of the vessel has exceeded limits in many operational modes. From modal testing and analysis of models and prototypes to permanently installed noise monitoring systems, HBK offers best-in-class acoustic and structural testing and monitoring solutions throughout a vessel’s lifecycle, including underwater acoustic measurements.

Benefits to the customer
We are providing Hull Vibration Monitoring Equipment (HVME) to BAE Systems for the
UK Type 26 Global Combat Ship programme, currently being built for the Royal Navy. All
eight Type 26 frigates will be equipped with the latest self-noise monitoring software to
ensure that they can accurately manage their own acoustic signature. One of the tasks of the Type 26 is to protect against potential intruding submarines; it is vital they can monitor and keep their own acoustic signature – the noise and vibration a vessel and its on-board equipment and systems project into the water – as low as possible.

The HVME comprises commercial off-the shelf equipment that includes transducers, data acquisition, vibration measurement and analysis capabilities. The kit is tailored to each vessel’s layout, enabling location specific alarms to be triggered in the event of excessive noise or vibration, so the crew can take action to reduce it.