Overview

Immersive Hearing Loss and Prosthesis Simulator

I-HeLPS — the Immersive Hearing Loss and Prosthesis Simulator – is a wearable headset designed to simulate the auditory communication difficulties associated with hearing loss and the benefits of hearing aids and cochlear implants.

I-HeLPS provides research-quality simulations for demonstrating hearing loss and aids in family counseling, hearing-conservation programs, and professional training.

I-HeLPS – the Immersive Hearing Loss and Prosthesis Simulator – is a wearable headset system for simulating the auditory communication difficulties associated with hearing loss along with the benefits provided by hearing aids and cochlear implants. I-HeLPS is a binaural system, with independent loss and prosthesis characteristics specified for the left and right sides; it provides simple controls for quickly switching among loss and prosthesis settings; and it can be used in everyday settings without occupying hands or eyes.

The characteristic of I-HeLPS that makes it unique is that it shifts the listener’s auditory thresholds for ambient sounds to match a specified hearing loss. The listener is immersed in the soundscape that is the input to the simulation so that he or she will be able to experience a simulated hearing impairment for the everyday sounds in the environment. Such a change in hearing ability can immediately demonstrate many of the problems of hearing loss and the characteristics of auditory aids.

Immersive HeLPS Interface

I-HeLPS consists of two main components: 1) a headset tethered by a USB cable (to be connected to a Windows PC), and 2) a graphical interface running on the PC for controlling the simulation. Up to three hearing specifications and three prosthesis specifications can be specified at a time, and one of each can be selected for the real-time immersive simulation.

I-HeLPS is designed to provide demonstrations in several settings: in counseling for families of hearing-impaired and deaf persons; in hearing aid fitting; and in hearing-conservation and public education programs. I-HeLPS is especially valuable when real-time interaction in an actual acoustic environment is key. Such applications arise: in hearing research; in training audiologists and educators of the deaf; in accessibility testing for product development; and in evaluating hearing criteria for job performance.

Host Computer Requirements

  • Intel Core 2 Duo (equivalent) or better
  • Microsoft Windows 7/8
  • 2GB RAM
  • 300MB of available hard-disk space
  • 1024×768 monitor resolution or higher

Features

Immersive HeLPS Kit

I-HeLPS Features

  • Frequency-dependent hearing loss from 0 to 100 dB
  • Control gain and compression in each channel of a 3-channel hearing aid
  • Cochlear implant simulation with 1 to 10 channels
  • Hearing loss and prosthesis characteristics are specified independently for left and right sides
  • Up to three hearing specifications, in addition to normal hearing, and three prosthesis specifications, in addition to Unaided, can be specified. One of each is selected for simulation.
  • Can be used in everyday settings without occupying hands or eyes

I-HeLPS Includes

  • Headset tethered by a USB cable to be connected to a Windows PC (not included)
  • A graphical interface for controlling the simulation.

Documentation

Please consult the following documents for important information about Immersive HeLPS:

 

FAQ

Q. What is the difference between HeLPS v2 and I-HeLPS?

A. HeLPS (HeLPS v2) is a computer program that simulates hearing loss for sounds that are stored on the computer. The listener listens to the output of the simulation using ordinary headphones, or in some simulation conditions, loudspeakers. The audiologist controls the degree of HL, noise, tinnitus, hearing aids, etc that the simulation applies to the stored signals and then presentes to the listener.

I-HeLPS (Immersive HeLPS) is a system that provides HL simulation for sounds in the listener’s environment. It uses a specialized headset that is attached by a USB cable to a computer. The headset picks up ambient sound with its binaural microphones, processes those signals according to the HL, tinnitus, and hearing aids, etc specified by the audiologist, and delivers those processed signals from earphones inside the headset.

So the main difference in terms of HL simulation is that I-HeLPS has an extra degree of realism because it affects the listener’s auditory perception of all the familiar surrounding sounds. If you try to have a conversation with the listener, he or she will experience the difficulty very directly and it will have an immediate impact.

HeLPS is not interactive in that way since it applies the simulation to stored signals, not ambient ones. The simulation does not act on surrounding sound so a conversation with a simulated-loss listener is not possible. Still, it gets the points across clearly and effectively about the difficulty to be expected with a given degree of loss, the benefit of aids, etc.

Q. Does I-HeLPS run on Windows Vista or XP?

A. No. I-HeLPS runs on Windows 7 and 8 only.

Q. Is I-HeLPS available for the Mac?

A. There is no native version of I-HeLPS currently available for the Mac, but it runs on Windows 7/8 in both Bootcamp and Parallels.