EASY LISTENING: Optimizing the consequences of effortful listening in occupational settings

PhD position 2: Acoustical Scene Analysis and Speech Enhancement

Together with CeoTronics AG, Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Oldenburg offers one fully funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD stipend position in the field of audio scene analysis and speech enhancement.

For over 30 years, CeoTronics has developed and produced innovative communication systems for demanding environments. They are the leading supplier of mobile digital radio networks and terminal equipment as well as high-quality communication headsets and systems for professional use.

CeoTronics communication systems, including effective hearing protection and other protective functions, are far superior to simple hearing protectors because users can still communicate with each other even under the most adverse conditions. Whether working, for example, in noisy or dangerous environments or wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), CeoTronics systems offer more protection in the workplace, increasing productivity and efficiency.

CeoTronics provides communication systems and services for a wide variety of professional groups. The company employs approximately 100 people and is headquartered in Rödermark, near Frankfurt.

The objective of the Oldenburg Branch for Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology HSA of the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT is to translate scientific findings related to hearing perception and man-machine interaction into technological applications. Its research and development priorities are the enhancement of sound quality and speech intelligibility, personalized audio reproduction, automatic speech recognition and acoustic event detection with the help of artificial intelligence. A further focus is the use of mobile neurotechnology, which specifically facilitates the recording of brain activity and utilization of the resulting data outside the laboratory.

Application fields include consumer electronics, the automotive sector, industrial production, security, telecommunications and healthcare. Through scientific partnerships, Fraunhofer IDMT-HSA has close links with the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Jade University of Applied Sciences and other institutions engaged in hearing research in Oldenburg. Fraunhofer IDMT-HSA is a partner in the Cluster of Excellence »Hearing4all«.

The Oldenburg Branch for Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology HSA is funded in the program »Vorab« by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science andCulture (MWK) and the Volkswagen Foundation for its further development.

The group »Audio Signal Enhancement (ASE)« of the Fraunhofer IDMT-HSA focuses on single and multichannel based enhancement of disturbed audio signals (e.g. speech), separation of targeted sounds, automatic speaker recognition and acoustic analysis of dangerous situations.

About the project »EASYLI«

Noise, hearing loss and listening difficulties at the workplace can require high levels of (listening) effort in order to maintain performance. This can lead to increased levels of stress and fatigue, which can result in productivity loss and increased sick leave. However, applying effort to listening leads to positive consequences as well (good work performance, pleasure, safety, societal participation). In the Horizon Europe Doctoral Network project »EASYLI« (Easy listening: optimizing the consequences of effortful listening in occupational settings), our stance is to optimize the ratio between the costs and benefits of effortful listening.

EASYLI will train 6 doctoral candidates to develop and apply a toolbox of ambulatory and laboratory measures to assess listening effort in occupational settings. They will apply real-time acoustic scene analysis, virtual acoustics, and physiological and subjective measures in laboratory and real-life conditions. The candidates will also evaluate individualized interventions (e.g., machine learning-based speech enhancement algorithms, hearing aids). EASYLI consists of 5 academic partners and 4 non-academic partners representing hearing-aid and communication systems industries, audiology, and occupational sectors with challenging acoustic environments.

The doctoral network EASYLI strongly values research integrity, actively supports open access and reproducible research, and strives for diversity and gender balance in its entire research and training program. EASYLI adheres to The European Charter for Researchers and The Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers.

What you will do

In this project, you will research and develop machine learning-based technologies for audio scene analysis and improvement of the acoustical signal in the context of occupational communication in safety-critical conditions. At the same time, you will enroll as doctoral student at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany.

You will be fully embedded in the EASYLI research and training network and will carry out theoretical and applied research in the interdisciplinary fields of signal processing, audio processing, communication systems, machine learning, and psychoacoustics. The topics of the position are related to the following fields:

  • Speaker recognition
  • Sound source detection and separation
  • Development of machine/deep learning-based algorithms for acoustic signal processing
  • Real time implementation (low delay processing)
  • Human speech perception and psychoacoustics

What you bring to the table

  • University Master degree (or equivalent) in signal processing, hearing technology, informatics, computer science, or equivalent. Applicants who already obtained a PhD degree are not eligible.
  • Strong knowledge about audio signal processing
  • Knowledge about machine learning and state-of-the-art frameworks (PyTorch, TensorFlow, etc.)
  • Basic knowledge about digital signal processors and their capabilities
  • Programming skills in Python, C/C++, MATLAB
  • Excellent proficiency in English is required, as well as good communication skills, both oral and written
  • Ability to work independently as well as in a team
  • Problem solving ability
  • Fulfillment of the MSCA Early Stage admission requirements:
    Researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Germany for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account. For international European interest organizations, international organizations, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) or an ‘entity created under Union law’, recruited researchers must not have spent more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date at the same appointing organization.

What you can expect

Your research project will be jointly hosted by Fraunhofer IDMT and CeoTronics AG. At Fraunhofer IDMT, you will be embedded in the group »Audio Signal Enhancement«. At CeoTronics, you will become part of the R&D team and have access to state-of-the-art testing infrastructure for professional communication systems.

  • Challenging projects with high scientific and economic relevance
  • Work in a pleasant working atmosphere in an interested, interdisciplinary team
  • Cooperation with renowned, international partners and customers
  • Room for own ideas and their implementation
  • An excellently equipped technical infrastructure
  • Diversity and a cooperative atmosphere
  • New Work and a very good work-life balance through flexible working time models, co-child office and the possibility of mobile working
  • Very good opportunities for professional development and a strong professional network in Oldenburg’s lively science scene

This job posting is made in cooperation with CeoTronics. Please apply for both job advertisements.

The position is initially limited to 36 months, starting with a 18-months contract at Fraunhofer IDMT, Oldenburg, Germany, followed by a 18-months contract at CeoTronics AG, Rödermark, Germany. Remuneration at Fraunhofer is based on the guidelines for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.

The weekly working time is 39 hours. We value and promote the diversity of our employees’ skills and therefore welcome allapplications – regardless of age, gender, nationality, ethnic and social origin, religion, ideology, disability, sexual orientation andidentity. Severely disabled persons are given preference in the event of equal suitability.

Interested? Submit your application now to Fraunhofer, and to CeoTronics (by sending your application to personal@ceotronics.com). We look forward to getting to know you!

Technical questions:
Jan Rennies-Hochmuth
Phone: +49 441 2172 433
jan.rennies-hochmuth@idmt.fraunhofer.de

Questions about the application process:
Femke Grotelüschen
Phone: +49 441 2172 437
femke.grotelueschen@idmt.fraunhofer.de

Institutsteil Hör-, Sprach- und Audiotechnologie HSA in Oldenburg

www.idmt.fraunhofer.de/de/hsa.html 

Senior researchers involved in this project are Jan Rennies-Hochmuth and Xavier Domont