How DSP Concepts and Mimi Help People Hear Better
True wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds have been one of the most successful innovations in audio. The TWS market has expanded rapidly, and there have been several landmark advancements, such as the inclusion of voice assistants and active noise cancellation. The technology surrounding these devices continues to progress, with new innovations that offer personalization and accessibility features, making devices more adaptive and inclusive.
Mimi Hearing Technologies are now helping them address a user health problem that is widespread but often hidden: hearing loss. Through an app-based hearing test and compensation technology, Mimi allows audio manufacturers to provide a personalized listening experience on TWS earbuds — and thanks to DSP Concepts Audio Weaver, the product development platform for the Audio of Things, adding Mimi’s technology is fast and easy.
Mimi employs a smartphone app and digital signal processing technology built into true wireless earbuds to administer a user-conducted hearing test that optimizes the audio based on the individual’s hearing and yields instant results. Mimi’s technology gauges the user’s ability to distinguish sounds in the presence of interfering noise and develops a personalized restoration profile, called a Hearing ID, to allow personalized hearing correction across multiple devices.
Leading electronics brands such as Beyerdynamic, Skullcandy, Cleer Audio, Philips, Loewe, Compaq, and more have integrated Mimi’s technology into millions of units to date, and the Mimi Hearing Test smartphone application has provided personalized hearing insights to more than two million users worldwide.
Mimi is one of many advanced technologies now available in TWS earbuds, including active noise cancellation (ANC), enhanced voice communications, wind noise cancellation for microphones, spatial audio, and more. However, as advanced capabilities are added, the complexity of developing and optimizing TWS earbuds increases.
Designing and testing these products in development is already challenging because the performance of the earbuds and the effectiveness of many of these advanced technologies can vary greatly depending on how well they fit in a listener’s ear or a test fixture. True wireless earbuds rely entirely on a Bluetooth connection; temporary wiring for testing can change the acoustics and affect the fit of the earbuds in test fixtures. When moving from a wired prototype to a real product with significantly different components such as batteries, additional antennae, and additional sensors, significant tuning is required. Every change in the hardware, software, or form factor demands a new round of testing, and additional rewriting and debugging of the DSP code. In the face of these challenges, adding a third-party technology becomes even more daunting.
The DSP Concepts solution addresses these issues, greatly reducing development time and allowing engineers to achieve superior results and a faster time to market. Audio Weaver Designer (AWE Designer) software lets development teams choose from more than 550 audio processing modules, including third-party technologies such as Mimi, which can be combined and connected via drag-and-drop in an onscreen GUI as the design requires — all with minimal training and no need to write DSP code. Processing designs are created and refined within the software on a PC prior to running on the embedded target processor.
When developing TWS features that involve processing audio with a variety of complex algorithms, one important challenge is ensuring that the features successfully coexist in a deeply embedded solution. Audio Weaver allows developers to work in parallel at various stages of the development cycle to incorporate, debug, and tune individual features separately, and provides tools to analyze the complete signal chain to achieve the optimal performance of the design as a cohesive whole. With this approach, developers can focus on adding new functionality first, then achieve the performance desired within the confines of the embedded solution, using the same tools at each step of the way.
A separate piece of embedded software, called Audio Weaver Core (AWE Core), allows Audio Weaver designs to port easily into all popular audio DSPs and SoCs. AWE Core allows designers to create a processing chain on one processor, then easily adapt it to other devices.
“Our mission is to give everyone access to hearing wellbeing by putting the human and hearing at the center of every sound experience,” says Ian Ritchey, Head of BD & Strategic Partnerships at Mimi. “We want Mimi to be everywhere people listen, from headphones, TVs, smartphones, speakers, to streaming platforms and more. DSP Concepts helps to make this possible, because it eliminates all the extra coding that would otherwise be needed to adapt our technology to different designs and hardware. DSP Concepts can cut months off the time it takes for us to bring a new partner on board.”
Even though hundreds of millions of TWS products have already been sold, the market is sure to expand dramatically, as TWS earbuds augment their entertainment capabilities with health and wellness technologies like Mimi. DSP Concepts Audio Weaver is making this expansion faster, easier, and more profitable for hardware manufacturers and technology licensing partners — and most importantly, making these products much more satisfying and effective for end users.