In addition, clEAR™ is the first auditory training tool to take advantage of the microphones installed in today’s computers. This allows for customized training in which someone close to the user, such as a spouse, parent, or teacher, records training words and phrases into a computer microphone. The speech recordings are immediately applied computerized games, allowing patients to participate in auditory training while learning to recognize the speech of someone who is important to them.
“Previously, it would’ve taken several months and intense labor to record and edit voice samples,” Murray said. “Using the propriety clEAR™ software, editing happens instantaneously and automatically.”
Users will be able to access the training games either directly through the web, via the clEAR™ website, or via clEAR™ Providers such as health care professionals and educators. Users will have the option of training at home with a home computer, in an audiological practice, or in a classroom setting.
“Many people, even if they use a hearing aid, will still need to learn how to interpret a distorted auditory signal,” Spehar said. “This is especially true if they are trying to understand speech in a noisy environment, such as a busy restaurant. clEAR™ will provide a unique tool for audiologists who want to provide extended aural rehabilitation services in a way that is feasible and cost-effective.”
The efficacy of clEAR™ has been demonstrated by Murray, Spehar and their multidisciplinary team, which includes Dr. Mitchell Sommers in the WU Department of Psychology and Dr. Joe Barcroft in the WU Department of Romance Languages. Their research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. Development of the clEAR technology also received funding through the WU Bear Cub program, which helps to support University researchers turn their ideas into marketable products.
“This project is a perfect example of how various pieces of Washington University blend to create something that will benefit society,” Murray added. “The University provides us with outstanding research support, programs like Bear Cub help to fund our projects, and the OTM gets our idea into the marketplace.”