Florida Tech student team takes first place in digital signal processor contest


Team develops real-time algorithm to remove background noise

MELBOURNE, FLA.--A Florida Tech team of two students and a faculty member developed a real-time algorithm that removes background noise to earn first place in the 2005 UML-ADI First Regional Contest hosted by the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Analog Devices Inc. and UMASS Lowell sponsored the competition, naming it with their acronyms.

The contest between the Florida Tech team and teams from UMASS Lowell, University of Syracuse and the University of Calgary asked teams to develop a SHARC-based assistive listening device. SHARC is a digital signal processor (DSP), that is, a chip, and product of Analog Devices.

The Florida Tech team of Dr. Veton Kepuska, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; undergraduate Brian Ramos; and master's degree student Don McMann, implemented their algorithm on an Analog Devices SHARC DSP board. Their system removes noise, such as background music, household appliances or a babble of voices from the input signal.

Practical applications for this technology are in the telecommunication, automotive, video game and aircraft industry and for home use. The solution could be embedded into a cellular phone, a telecommunication switch, or a voice-activated navigation system, for example, or used in a hearing aid device.

An assistive listening device (ALD) is considered general-purpose assistance to be used in a wide variety of listening situations to help reduce the adverse effects of background noise and the distance between speaker and listener. Typically, an ALD can increase the loudness of a radio, television, public speaker, actor, or someone talking softly, without increasing the loudness of the background noise.

The team won a trophy and $750, which Kepuska intends to invest in the Florida Tech Applied Perception Laboratory. He has already invested over $1,000 of his personal money to equip the laboratory with microphones and recording equipment.

"Because we had just six weeks to develop the technology once receiving the system to work on, only universities who have established programs using analog devices embedded development systems could participate," said Kepuska. "This doesn't diminish our success, however, we still had to start from scratch."

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