The digital hearing aid, wearable computing, and electrophysiological response.
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Presbycusis is the most common form of hearing loss caused by aging and long-term exposure to sound energy. This type of ailment decreases the ear's ability to perceive high frequencies and localize sound, thus making comprehension more difficult. To compensate for this loss, the choice of a digital hearing aid has become more common. However, most digital hearing aids do little more that their analogue predecessor's by providing a single, fixed hearing response. Such a fixed response is not suitable for all of a user's auditory environments and typically causes a more rapid loss of hearing. Significant advancement in processing power and reduction in size of computing hardware has produced increasingly more powerful, more portable, and more personal computing devices. These advances have spurred research and development of wearable computing devices towards integrating both man and machine. By definition, the digital hearing aid is a wearable computing device. The development of a digital hearing aid with increased onboard processing that is aware of its owner's electrophysiological and auditory environments is an obvious progression. This awareness will give the hearing aid the ability to autonomously modify its own parameters to improve audibility and comprehension. Electrophysiological signals can be classified as naturally occurring or voluntarily controlled. Employing these signals will allow the hearing aid to adapt to its owner's external and internal stimuli. Research and initial experiments into the monitoring and use of electrophysiological response for the control of the digital hearing aid shall be presented.
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