Experience, expertise, and a passion for sound go into our feedback management features

Reading Time: 4 min
04.11.2020

Who is behind the new features of our Bernafon products? As you can imagine, it is a big team of competent people working together to achieve great results. They come from different areas of expertise to collaborate on new inventions and features. Let me present one Bernafon employee that has participated in the development of several product features that have reached the market in the last few years.

Martin Kuriger has been working in digital signal processing (DSP) as an engineer for audio applications for the last 12 years. He has worked on the following features: Frequency Composition™ and Noise Reduction Plus in Acriva, Reverberation Reduction in Juna, Wind Noise Reduction in Zerena, and the Dynamic Feedback Canceller™ in Viron.

As a musician and piano player, he has always had a passion for sound. He also is a tinker and likes to find solutions to make things work. These two parts of his life give him a great basis for the work that he is doing for Bernafon as an engineer. Here are some insights into Martin’s work in creating new features for Bernafon hearing aids.

Martin Kuriger has been working in digital signal processing (DSP) as an engineer for audio applications for the last 12 years. He has worked on the following features: Frequency Composition™ and Noise Reduction Plus in Acriva, Reverberation Reduction in Juna, Wind Noise Reduction in Zerena, and the Dynamic Feedback Canceller™ in Viron.

As a musician and piano player, he has always had a passion for sound. He also is a tinker and likes to find solutions to make things work. These two parts of his life give him a great basis for the work that he is doing for Bernafon as an engineer. Here are some insights into Martin’s work in creating new features for Bernafon hearing aids.

 

Tanja Lottaz (TL): What does a typical day at work look like?
Martin Kuriger (MK): We work in a setup called “SCRUM”. Every morning the whole team meets for 15 minutes in a conference call where we coordinate our work for the day. During the day, I then mostly work on feature updates in the area of feedback management. This includes meetings to define and coordinate the tasks, actual changes to the code base to implement the updates, and lots of testing and documentation. We also listen to the hearing aids ourselves from time to time to check if everything sounds right.

TL: What is your greatest achievement at Bernafon?
MK: I would consider my work on the feedback detector for the Dynamic Feedback Canceller in DECS  as my greatest achievement so far. We gained a lot of insights into how feedback builds up and found a clever way to detect and remove feedback almost instantly. The underlying ideas are protected by several patents and they could lead to even bigger advances in feedback management in the future.

TL: How did you and your colleagues get the idea for the Dynamic Feedback Canceller™?
MK: The Dynamic Feedback Canceller™ uses a novel technique called “spectro-temporal modulation” (STM) that is very effective in removing feedback. A big challenge was to detect emerging feedback quickly enough to enable the STM before the feedback becomes audible. The key idea for this detection popped up while simply looking at some spectrograms of emerging feedback. If you look carefully, you can see a distinctive pattern that can be used for detecting feedback. You can read more about it in the White Paper ”Reduced acoustic feedback in realistic and active situations with Dynamic Feedback Canceller™”.

I like the fact that my ideas and inventions can really make a difference for people struggling with a hearing loss.

 

TL: What is your motivation to come up with new ideas and inventions?
MK: I like the fact that my ideas and inventions can really make a difference for people struggling with a hearing loss. Not being able to communicate can have significant limitations and side effects. Hearing aids can partly compensate for that, but I also see that there’s still room for improvement. In a perfect world, there would be no stigma attached to hearing aids and they could fully restore your normal hearing. I can’t influence the stigma so much, but I think I can still improve the signal processing. That motivates me.

TL: In your opinion, where is the future of the hearing aid industry heading?
MK: We have excellent directionality, noise reduction, and hearing loss compensation algorithms, which make it hard to do big improvements in these domains. However, further improvements on feedback management could create new benefits for HCPs and end users. Imagine feedback-free fittings no matter what acoustic option, power level, or amplification you choose. This is even more important for remote fittings. I also think that the whole topic of connectivity is a big thing and will grow even more in the future. The fact that you can use your hearing aids as a wireless headset could help remove the stigma and finally make hearing aids cool!

A big thank you to Martin who makes our products better with his experience, expertise, and his passion for sound.

 

About the author:

Tanja Lottaz
Tanja Lottaz, Multimedia Designer EFZ and Dipl. Gestalterin HF in Kommunikationsdesign, with specialty in Interaction Design.
Tanja is Head of Digital Channels and is in charge of Bernafon digital channels and various digital projects. Being informed about digital standards and trends is part of her job. She analyzes situations and problems, to come up with concepts to solve the problems and address user needs. She has worked for Bernafon since 2011 and has helped to develop many digital marketing projects. When not at work, Tanja is flying through the air doing aerial acrobatics.