Small Business Innovation Research

Start Date: 1985 - End Date: 1985


Multipath Systems Inc
1255 Nuuanu Ave #E2315
Honolulu, HI 96817

Agency: National Science Foundation


    Spatial Hearing for Teleoperated Systems

    NSF Grant No. ECS 84-60209

    Proposal Abstract

    New man-machine interface designs and techniques are increasingly needed to provide telepresence in robotic and teleoperated systems. One method of improving teleoperator control is by providing auditory feedback in a way that closely approximates the spatial hearing found naturally in human beings. The subject matter of this research proposal is how humans localize sound, be it left, right, up, down, front, back, near or far. The goal of this study is to use the time domain techniques of matched filter analysis to measure how the external ear modifies acoustical stimuli incident upon it as a funtion of sound source range and direction. This information will then be used to further develop systems that can record and reproduce acoustic space as well as electronically synthesize auditory cues for sound source locale. Ultimately, the goal will be the reproduction of sound in such a way as to be indistinguishable from reality.

    Potential Commercial Applications: This research will result in the provision of (1) acoustic telepresence for robotic and teleoperator systems; (2) synthesis of sound locale cues for auditory displays (in analogy to visual displays); (3) improved passive acoustic rangefinders and direction finders; and (4) improved active and passive navigational aids for the blind.

    Amount: $40,000 Type: Phase 1

    Spatial Hearing for Teleoperated Systems, Phase I Final Report


    The asymmetrical shape of the external ear plays an essential role in spatial hearing. Sounds enter the ear canal directly, and reflect off the convoluted ridges of the pinna resulting in a series of short latency echoes which combine with the direct sound, continuously encoding a unique transformational pattern as a function of sound source locale. The auditory system is believed to associate microsecond changes in this echo pattern wht the perception of locale.

    An acoustic impulse response measurement system capable of resolving echo timing to microsecond accuracy was developed. Measurements on the pinna reveal a complex pattern of reflections as a function of sound source azimuth, elevation, and range. The early reflections off the pinna can be related to notches in the pinna spectral response found by other researchers.

    Understanding spatial hearing could lead to improvements in any technology associated with audition. One application is to provide acoustic telepresence in robotic and remote teleoperated systems. The goal of this project is to design a two channel recording and reproduction system that can pick up the entire 3-dimensional sound field and reproduce it for the general listener in such a way as to be indistinguishable from reality.

    Available from the National Technical Information Service:
    NTIS Order No.: PB88-143193/A03
    Price: $12.95 paper copy; $6.95 microfiche (Prices subject to periodic increases.)