Tackling the Cocktail Party Problem for Hearing Devices: Solutions, Challenges and Opportunities


The cocktail party problem has remained to be one of the most challenging problems for hearing devices even after decades of extensive research. In this talk, we will introduce and discuss our research on the multi-microphone speech enhancement with an emphasis on robust and practical real-time algorithms for hearing devices. We will first present our research on multiple-microphone speech enhancement using a microphone array alone. Secondly, we will present our latest research on the multimodal speech enhancement using both brain signals (i.e. EEG) and microphone signals in a single joint-optimization framework. In both cases, we will use objective and subjective evaluation to demonstrate the algorithms’ effectiveness. Finally, we will discuss the challenges and opportunities in deploying these algorithms in the real-world

  Date and Time




  • University of Rochester
  • Rochester, New York
  • United States
  • Building: Robert B. Goergen Hall
  • Room Number: 101

Staticmap?size=250x200&sensor=false&zoom=14&markers=43.1576969%2c 77
  • Starts 15 June 2019 10:59 AM
  • Ends 28 June 2019 06:00 PM
  • All times are US/Eastern
  • No Admission Charge
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Tao Zhang


Tackling the Cocktail Party Problem for Hearing Devices: Solutions, Challenges and Opportunities


Tao Zhang received his B.S. degree in physics from Nanjing University, Nanjing, China in 1986, M.S. degree in electrical engineering from Peking University, Beijing, China in 1989, and Ph.D. degree in speech and hearing science from the Ohio-State University, Columbus, OH, USA in 1995. He joined the Advanced Research Department at Starkey Laboratories, Inc. as a Sr. Research Scientist in 2001, managed the DSP department from 2004 to 2008 and the Signal Processing Research Department from 2008 to 2014. Since 2014, he has been Director of the Signal Processing Research department at Starkey Hearing Technologies, a global leader in providing innovative hearing technologies. He has received many prestigious awards including Inventor of the Year Award, the Mount Rainier Best Research Team Award, the Most Valuable Idea Award, the Outstanding Technical Leadership Award and the Engineering Service Award at Starkey. He is a senior member of IEEE and the Signal Processing Society and the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. He serves on the IEEE AASP Technical Committee and the industrial relationship committee and the IEEE ComSoc North America Region Board, He is an IEEE SPS Distinguished Industry Speaker, the IEEE SPS Industry Convoy for the Unites States (Region 1-6) and the Chair of IEEE Twin-cities Signal Processing and Communication Chapter. His current research interests include audio, acoustic, speech signal processing and machine learning; multimodal signal processing and machine learning for hearing enhancement, health and wellness monitoring; psychoacoustics, room and ear canal acoustics; ultra-low power real-time embedded system design and device-phone-cloud ecosystem design. He has authored and coauthored 120+ presentations and publications, received 20+ approved patents and had additional 30+ patents pending.


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