Stories tagged deaf


Read my lips
Read my lipsCourtesy flickr-rickr

Machine accuracy - 80 %; Humans - 32%

More than half of people over 60 have a hearing loss (I am in that group). The demand for lip reading skills is driving technology. I foresee that we will soon have portable devices that will "read lips" and either show the words on a display or if the person is deaf and blind it could produce tactile symbols (braille) on a touch pad.

A research team from the School of Computing Sciences at UEA compared the performance of a machine-based lip-reading system with that of 19 human lip-readers. They found that the automated system significantly outperformed the human lip-readers – scoring a recognition rate of 80 per cent, compared with only 32 per cent for human viewers on the same task. Science Daily

Better virtual "talking heads", too

By analyzing results of computerized recognition of facial speech patterns, researchers hope to produce better visual speech synthesis. Computer generated "talking heads" are being evaluated to create the most intelligible and visually appealing system.


Researchers at the University of Michigan have restored the hearing of deaf guinea pigs.

Hair cells in the cochlea of each ear convert sound waves into nerve signals. The cells are easily damaged by loud noises, aging, infections, and certain medications. And, once damaged, hair cells don't grow back. But the researchers used a virus to insert a gene into ear cells that made new cochlear hair cells grow.

During fetal development, the gene makes some cells in the ear into hair cells. In other ear cells, called supporting cells, the gene is inactive. But researchers were able to use the gene to convert existing supporting cells into hair cells.

First, they deafened the guinea pigs by destroying their hair cells with antibiotics. Four days later, they used a virus to insert the corrective gene and get new hair cells to grow. The researchers observed increases in the guinea pigs' brain activity when they exposed them to noises—proof that the new cells are working.

Now researchers are studying whether or not the animals can tell the difference between loud or soft noises, or noises of different frequencies. They're also studying animals deafened in other ways, older animals, and animals deaf for longer periods of time before treatment starts. It will probably be a decade or so before the technique can be tried on human patients.