April 1, 2015
Today we were dazzled by our Senior Division Science Fair winner, Robert Henning, a junior at Mission Hills High. Robert’s project is entitled “The Exchange iMproving Unit: An Auditory Device for Directional Filtering. In layman’s terms, Robert has built a device which permits a hearing impaired person to select the source or sources of the sound he wishes to hear by filtering sounds for directionality when linked wirelessly to hearing aids. To do this he uses a mathematical process called a Fast Fourier Transform which decomposes a function of time (a signal) into the frequencies that make it up. His device is contained on a small circuit board and can be easily programed to receive sound only from selected directions.
Robert has tested his device four ways: Quality of the sound vs noise, Speech recognition, Angle discrimination and Unidirectional microphones and it has passed all tests. The device is especially useful in large crowded environments. The user points the device in the direction or directions he wants to select and activates it. Thereafter the device is not position or orientation sensitive because it contains both an internal compass and an orientation sensor which compensate if the device is moved. In three weeks Robert will travel to Pittsburg as one of only six San Diego Science Fair winners to compete in the International Science Fair, and he is still working on improvements to his device. Robert received a check for $100 from our club and will receive his plaque as soon as it arrives. He is one sharp person!!
Bill Cowing: I first confronted Fourier series or transforms in my third year of engineering school while Robert is just a high school junior. I can testify to the problem he is working on. My wife wears hearing aids and she has great difficulty determining the source of a sound even when she can hear it well. The human ear is much more direction sensitive than is a hearing aid receiver.