CILab Mission

The Cochlear Implant Laboratory led by Dr. John H. L. Hansen, is one of the several labs within CRSS:Center for Robust Speech Systems. The mission of CRSS-CI Lab is to contribute and advance the state of art in speech technology for improving hearing function of hearing impaired individuals with emphasis on cochlear implant recipients. To accomplish this, we focus on developing computer models and software that could improve the performance of cochlear implants in discerning background noise from conversations taking place in the foreground, as well as strengthening the intelligibility of the speech signal prior to CI stimulation. We feel honored to carry forward Dr. Philipos Loizou's vision and work of developing an interface that enabled an external Personal Digtial Assistant (CI-PDA) to process acoustic signals, such as speech, through a microphone worn behind an individual’s ear. After Dr. Loizou's passing in 2012, the lab moved towards designing a bi-modal and bi-lateral research platform (CCi-MOBILE) which allows any researcher to “test drive” their algorithms in the lab or for the first time on-the-go in natural settings where CI users have the most challenges in human communications. The CCi-MOBILE research platform allows for single or dual CIs, hearing aids (HAs), or a mix (CI in one ear, HA in another).

For centuries, people believed that only a miracle could restore hearing to the deaf. It was not until forty years ago that scientists first attempted to restore normal hearing to the deaf by electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve. The first experiments were discouraging as the patients reported that speech was unintelligible. However, as researchers continued to advance techniques for delivering electrical stimuli to the auditory nerve, the auditory sensations elicited by electrical stimulation gradually came closer to sounding more like normal speech. Today, a prosthetic device, called a cochlear implant, can be implanted in the inner ear and can restore partial hearing to profoundly deaf people.

Some individuals with implants can now communicate without lip-reading, some can communicate over the telephone and some can enjoy music. The success of cochlear implants can be attributed to the combined efforts of scientists from various disciplines including bioengineering, physiology, otolaryngology, hearing science/audiology speech science, and signal processing. Each of these disciplines contributed to various aspects of the design of cochlear prostheses. Signal processing, in particular, plays an important role in the development of different techniques for deriving electrical stimuli from the speech signal. Designers of cochlear prosthesis have been faced with the challenge of developing signal processing techniques that would mimic the function of a normal cochlea.

History of the CILab

Previoulsy directed by the late Dr. Philip Loizou, the main aim of his research was in signal processing for hearing aids and cochlear implants. His main contribution to the field, besides many highly cited publications in the field, was the Personal Digital Assistant project, funded by NIDCD/NIH. He envisioned a research interface platform which could be used by researchers interested in exploring new ideas to improve cochlear implant devices. Through many years, he succeded in developing a mobile solution to support this vision. Since his passing in 2012, his legacy and his project was further modified into the CCi-MOBILE Research Platform. For more information about Dr. Loizou and his legacy, view the IEEE SLTC Newsletter written by Dr. John Hansen.

More Information on Past Research:
ciPDA Project Overview
Report: Open Architecture Research Interface for Cochlear Implants (NIH R01 DC60002; 2006-2011)
Report: User Customization and User Optimization of Cochlear Implants (R01 DC010494; 2012-2017)

Iterative Design | ciPDA --> CCi-MOBILE

CCi-MOBILE Research Platform

The CCi-MOBILE Research Platform currently funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), enables easy development and evaluation of sound processing algorithms/strategies with cochlear implant as well as hearing aid users. The platform is compatible with Nucleus devices manufactured by Cochlear Corp. For more information, documentation, features, and so much more, check out the CCi-MOBILE Tab.

Join us in our Misson to Support Cochlear Implant Research

Our goal is to advance signal processing and machine learning algorithms to improve the CCi-MOBILE Research Platform thus making it accessible to the research community so that as researchers we can all benefit from diverse range of research capabilities possible with the platform. We envision the CCi-MOBILE Research Platform to be a community-driven platform which will encourage cochlear implant based research activities to facilitate transitioning of research ideas from the laboratory to both clinical and commercial spaces. For more information on CCi-MOBILE and how to request CCi-MOBILE for your research entity/institution/company, visit our CCi-MOBILE tab.

Cochlear implant user? Participate in our Research!

Are you a CI or hearing-aid user and would like to help improve current technology used in building them? Participate in our research experiments to help us evaluating algorithms outside the lab in everyday naturalistic environments. For more information, check out the participate tab. If this is your first time participating with us, we ask that you fill out a first time survey to ensure that our equipment will work with your implant.