Fraunhofer Institute Researcher Receives Grant to Improve Personalized Hearing Systems

July 12 2019, 09:35
Dr. Jan Rennies-Hochmuth has been awarded a grant from the “Klaus Tschira Boost Fund” for his research on personalized hearing systems for improved speech communication at the Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology Division (HSA) of the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Oldenburg. Rennies-Hochmuth’s research work aims to understand better how speech is perceived in complex listening conditions and above all how information is combined across both ears.
Dr. Jan Rennies-Hochmuth, hearing researcher and Head of Group at the Fraunhofer IDMT in Oldenburg. Photo: Fraunhofer IDMT.

“Better hearing for everyone” – it was with this idea that Dr. Jan Rennies-Hochmuth successfully convinced the committee of the Klaus Tschira (KT) Boost Funds. Along with eleven other early career researchers, Rennies-Hochmuth will now receive financial support from the KT Boost Fund and professional assistance through exchange with an extensive network of experts. The starting point for the work performed by the hearing researcher and Head of Group at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Oldenburg is where human speech communication is hampered by noise, reverberation and hearing loss.

Despite many years’ research in the field of speech intelligibility, knowledge gaps still exist regarding how human hearing functions in complex listening situations and how disturbing factors restrict communication. The respective development of models for predicting human speech intelligibility is not yet fully explored either. 

Rennies-Hochmuth’s research work aims to understand better binaural hearing. In order to find out more about the key factors for individual understanding of speech and perceived hearing effort, several experiments will be conducted with test persons with normal or impaired hearing. “Our findings are intended to form the basis for improved prediction models and applications – for example in hearing aids and communication systems,” explains Rennies-Hochmuth.

Together with the German Scholars Organization e.V., the Klaus Tschira Foundation provides support for the next generation of academics. With the support of the Klaus Tschira Boost Fund, Dr. Jan Rennies-Hochmuth will now devote himself to examining these topics in greater depth. Fraunhofer IDMT-HSA is a partner in the »Hearing4all« Cluster of Excellence.

"The KT Boost Fund creates the necessary freedom, both financially and in terms of time, to continue work on basic research projects with high publication potential and at the same time further the development of my group at the Fraunhofer IDMT. In particular, I’ll be in a position to foster international research partnerships – something I’m really looking forward to,” says Jan Rennies-Hochmuth.

Jan Rennies-Hochmuth studied Engineering Physics at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg and the Technical University of Denmark in Lyngby. Rennies-Hochmuth already received the Lower Saxony Science Award in 2007 for his bachelor’s dissertation on sound masking through different noise signals. In 2008, he started firstly as a doctoral researcher at the Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology Division (HSA) of the Fraunhofer IDMT in Oldenburg and since then has conducted research in the field of human speech perception. In 2012, he became Head of Group, Personalized Hearing Systems, and since 2017 has been Deputy Head of Department. In the course of his work on computer-based models for the prediction of perceived loudness and speech intelligibility, in 2016 Dr. Jan Rennies-Hochmuth received one of the most prestigious prizes awarded annually in Germany in the field of technical acoustics – the Lothar Cremer Prize.
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