Improving TV audio for those with hearing loss

24th May 2024, 10:01 am

The University of Salford has partnered with an American multinational technology company for a project focussing on TV audio and how it can be improved for people with hearing loss, as part of an industrial PhD (iPhD).

The  iPhD scheme provides a structure to recruit a doctoral student, which is supported by joint funding, to deliver a piece of cutting-edge research. The involved industrial partner will gain a competitive advantage by benefiting from tailored research insights specifically aligned to their most pressing innovation challenges, whilst also supporting the development of the new generation of researchers.

Over the next three and a half years, experts from Salford will work with DTS, Inc., a subsidiary of Xperi Inc, to study program comprehension, speech intelligibility and audio quality in broadcast TV shows. In the process, various research questions will be posed and developed with robust findings over the course of the project. These questions include:

  • Can we predict when people will rely on subtitles based on scene understanding analysis of the video and audio content?
  • Do state-of-the-art source separation, speech enhancement and remixing lead to improved audio for those with a hearing loss?
  • Can spatial reproduction exploiting Internet of Sounds result in improved audio for those with a hearing loss?


By the end of the project, the aim will have been to identify appropriate implementations for consumer-side media personalisation.


Through a method called Deep Learning (subset of machine learning that uses multi-layered neural networks to simulate the complex decision-making power of the human brain), society has made great improvements in speech separation and enhancement, but the exploitation of Deep Learning is yet to be researched in relation to accessible sound. This university project is looking to bridge that gap and make accessible sound media available to a broad range of consumers, including many who do not consider themselves to be hearing impaired.


Dr Ben Shirley, leading academic, said: “We are very pleased to be starting this new, exciting, research collaboration with DTS. Having worked successfully on accessible broadcast solutions with the company in previous research projects it’s great to renew such a productive relationship with an organisation so committed to developing accessible broadcast solutions.”

Martin Walsh VP, Audio R&D at DTS, said: “We are thrilled to partner with the University of Salford, aligning with our commitment to enhancing accessibility and inclusion in new technology development. Salford is renowned for its expertise in dialogue understanding within the broadcast industry. Our collaboration will focus on the impact of dialogue reproduce within the home, leveraging their insights to innovate our upcoming consumer products. We anticipate a fruitful relationship, learning from and contributing to the vibrant community of staff and students at Salford.”


Dr Alex Garcia-Miranda Ferrari, Collaborative R&D Manager at the University of Salford, said: “Our commitment at the University of Salford is to bridge the gap between businesses and academia, sparking innovation and fuelling progress. The successful launch of the iPhD partnership with DTS is a demonstration of the joint commitment. We anticipate making substantial advancements in the realm of accessible sound, while simultaneously bolstering DTS’s standing as a pioneer in the domains of sight, sound, and beyond.”

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