Making Digital Technology Work for People – Lauren Ward wins EPSRC Connected Nation Pioneers Competition
November 21, 2018

Huge Congratulations to Lauren Ward who won the EPSRC Connected Nation Pioneers ‘Making Digital Technology Work for People’. This is a fantastic achievement for her research on narrative importance with Ben Shirley and others in S3A.

Hearing loss is on the rise, affecting 1 in 6 people in the UK and we are consuming more and more of our news and information via audio-visual media – videos currently make up over 70% of internet traffic. This makes improving media accessibility more important than ever.

Lauren have been working with the EPSRC funded ‘S3A Future Spatial Audio Project‘ to translate this understanding into end-user technology. In this project she developed a simple control which allows the viewer to adjust the complexity of a television sound mix and personalize it for their needs, allowing usability whilst maintaining the producer’s creative intent. The results had positive feedback from end-users and producers and are currently working with broadcasting and technology partners to implement this into production workflows and into end-user systems.

Lauren’s project exploits the next generation of broadcast audio technology, object-based broadcasting, to reduce the barriers to television content experienced by people with hearing loss. The balance between different sounds within a television soundtrack has been shown as a significant barrier in my research. Experiments have shown that some non-speech sounds which help normal hearing listeners understand speech still provide some benefit for many people with hearing loss.

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