Cadence Design Systems has partnered with a consortium featuring GlobalFoundries (GF), Hoerzentrum Oldenburg, and Leibniz University Hannover to advance the development of the Smart Hearing Aid Processor (SmartHeAP) technology.

The collaboration is said to have developed the industry’s first binaural hearing aid system-on-chip (SoC) prototype that can be programmed with high-programming languages.

According to the US-based Cadence Design Systems, the technology can allow customers to make hearing aids that can process critical sounds more optimally and lower background noise simultaneously.

The technology will offer hearing aid firms all the components necessary to design and reprogramme hearing aids that enhance wearers’ listening experiences.

The new system-on-chip is based on the Cadence Tensilica Fusion G6 DSP and Tensilica Xtensa LX7 processor, the Cadence digital full flow, and the GF 22FDX platform.

Cadence IP group product management vice president Rishi Chugh said: “Each organisation involved brought a unique perspective to the project, and delivering a successful prototype that can make a positive impact on the hearing experience is the ultimate reward.

“The Cadence digital full flow and Tensilica Fusion G6 DSP and Xtensa LX7 controller were foundational for this project, and the consortium is already seeing a high level of interest in the prototype from the hearing aid industry.”

The SmartHeAP SoC prototype has binaural hearing technology using which the hearing aids in the right and left ears communicate with one another. This allows the wearer to pick up sounds from the full auditory scene without distorting the binaural cues.

It also has improved hearing loss compensation capabilities as it automatically analyses the incoming signal using advanced algorithms to deliver adaptive sound amplification as per the wearer’s hearing requirements.

The SmartHeAP SoC is said to offer optimal sound quality in real-time while saving power and extending hearing aid battery life. Its software can be rapidly upgraded without the need to replace the hardware.

Additionally, the prototype is helpful for hearing aid firms of all sizes due to its ease of use of programming languages.

GlobalFoundries corporate fellow Ted Letavic said: “By harnessing the power of the Cadence Tensilica DSP and digital full flow combined with the energy efficiency of the 22FDX platform, we delivered compelling PPA results.”