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06/07/2019 | 10:00 CEST | Unitron

Intelligent Binaural Hearing System (IBHS) enables individual hearing instruments to work as a ‘single brain’ to detect, and respond to speech location in crowds and noise

July 6, 2019 ­– Kitchener, Canada - Unitron’s Chief Scientist, Henry Luo, receives a second nomination within the last decade for the Manning Innovation Award for his work leading the development of an Intelligent Binaural Hearing System (IBHS) for use in hearing instruments. IBHS is a technology able to share data between two separate hearing instruments to accurately detect and respond to the location of speech binaurally in very challenging listening situations – such as speech in a crowd and speech in noise. 

Henry Luo explains, “When the hearing instruments are able to share information in real-time, a bigger picture of the sound environment can be factored into signal processing. What’s happening to the left, right, back or front of a wearer is detected, shared, evaluated, processed and delivered back to the ears to provide a synchronized listening experience.”

In humans (as well as in many animals) with normal hearing, two ears work together to sense environments and locate speech targets in everyday life. IBHS mimics this natural system, working as a ‘single brain’ to understand the big picture around a hearing instrument wearer. It continually monitors the surrounding environment for speech and noise – detects the target, or desired speaker’s location, prioritizes that sound for signal processing, and reduces surrounding noise. 

Without this binaural approach, hearing instruments complete these tasks independently – which can cause confusion, a lack of spatial awareness and poor understanding of speech in noise. All factors that can also cause brain fatigue for hearing instrument users, as the effort for them to understand and adapt to their surroundings increases with these factors.

“Historically, hearing aid manufacturers assumed, and many still do, that a wearer is looking at the target speaker and that this target is always coming from the front – this just isn’t the case. Once we know where speech is coming from, we can optimize every aspect of our signal processing to increase the ability to focus on conversation and ignore interfering sounds from other directions.” Explains Dr. Don Hayes, Director of Clinical Research.

The ability of this technology to quickly and accurately detect speech targets and listening environments, exchange information between hearing instruments and optimize and conserve battery power are a true innovation in the hearing industry – opening the door to better spatial awareness and speech understanding in challenging listening environments. In fact, even users with normal hearing would likely do better with this technology in difficult hearing situations. 

About Henri Luo

Unitron Henry Luo

Henry Luo is the Chief Scientist and Manager of Digital Signal Processing at Unitron, responsible for technological innovation of the company’s core technology, digital platforms, algorithms and product development. 

“What has characterized Henry throughout the years we’ve been colleagues at Unitron is the ability to never give up and to persevere in the face of the inevitable difficulties and adversity that are present while innovation is on-going. If it were easy, everybody would be able to innovate, but it’s not, and perseverance, even more than talent and ability, is the determining factor in the end. Although very talented, it’s Henry’s perseverance which stands out.” – says Ara Talaslian, VP of R&D at Unitron.

Luo was awarded the David E. Mitchell Award of Distinction, presented by the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation in 2013 for his AntishockTM technology – a patented innovation that instantly detects and controls sudden, harsh noises - such as the shatter of a glass on a ceramic floor to protect hearing instrument wearers from discomfort.

Dr. Luo holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering (1994) from the University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom. He is an expert reviewer for the Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), an Adjunct Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo, and an Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering at McMaster University.

About Unitron

Unitron is a hearing solution company that believes people should feel good about the entire hearing care experience, start to finish. Providing an exceptional product is just the beginning. Our ingenious FLEX™ ecosystem is a collection of products, technologies, services and programs designed to make the experience of buying and wearing a hearing instrument feel easy and empowering, with a level of personalized care you simply can’t get anywhere else. Get ready to Love the experience. A member of the Sonova Group, Unitron was established in 1964 and now has a global footprint, delivering an exceptional experience in over 60 countries. For more information, visit