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Facebook Research is Creating Augmented Reality Glasses That Will Help Deaf People

Generally, the news of a research lab’s conversion into a bar would suggest that it is a failure. But for Facebook Reality Labs Research, it displayed that its work was paying off. The lab is committed to devising creative ways to improve the hearing of deaf people. Facebook aims to help people better connect and communicate with each other. Hence, the lab’s mission fits excellently into the tech giant’s core competencies.

The issue the company has been trying to resolve is how to enhance audio pick up for people in noisy situations. Although a lot of individuals with hearing problems, depending on its severity, can hear and communicate in quiet locations, they find it a whole lot difficult in noisy places. Facebook has been trying to find a way to combine beamforming technology, noise cancellation, deep learning, and augmented reality to improve this scenario.

Matching Focus

Their scientists, in one of the recent projects, have been exploring how AR glasses could help figure out which sounds people want to intensify. By matching one’s focus to audio inputs, augmented reality glasses can determine which sounds the individual wishes to hear, which they want to ignore, and then magnify or lower the sound channels accordingly. Facebook has done some experiments in this section and transformed their workspace into a fake bar to see how it would function in a place with several noisy sound inputs.

Everyday scenarios

Thomas Lunner, the firm’s Hearing Science Lab’s research lead, said that numerous deaf people do not use hearing aids as they do not function well in everyday scenarios. Like for example, in a moving car, a conversation involving several people at a loud event, etc.

In conducting their improved hearing research for augmented reality glasses, they understood that some of the discoveries they were making could be viable for resolving this issue.

Facebook Research is Creating Augmented Reality Glasses That Will Help Deaf People.

AR-processed signal

Lunner further talks about their new research where they show how AR could support the hearing aid, through a system that can comprehend what one wishes to listen to, isolates as well as enhances the sound the person wants to hear and also lowers distracting background noise. By sending the AR-processed signal to the hearing device, one gets a system that adjusts for his/her unique hearing ability.

Lunner is a widely recognized hearing scientist whose work laid the foundation for the first digital hearing device in the world. The research, while still in its initial levels, taps into Facebook’s several areas of research like natural language processing, image recognition, and lots more. Lunner spoke about hearing sciences and explained it as an area they are just beginning to explore. Thus, this technology is unavailable on any of their offerings. However, augmented reality glasses’ possibilities excite them immensely.

Terrific applications

Lunner believes that one day the AR glasses can help to deliver every kind of enhancement, including assisting anyone with hearing problems or those who find it difficult to understand people at an event. Michael Abrash, Facebook Reality Labs’ chief scientist believes that both virtual and augmented reality could have terrific applications in the accessibility space.

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