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3D-Printed Heads Talk, Swivel, Listen to Improve Audio Devices

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Three-dimensionally printed acoustic head simulators.

The team figured out how to create a series of acoustic head simulators through 3D printing. They then placed these heads on swivels to mimic the human neck. The heads have speakers in their mouths, and highly detailed ears fitted with microphones.

Credit: Augmented Listening Laboratory, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

A team of researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has three-dimensionally (3D)-printed acoustic head simulators that can help to measure the absorption and processing of sound.

The researchers attached the heads to swivels to imitate the neck; the heads mimic speech with mouth speakers, while microphones in their ears pick up sounds.

The simulators were designed to model realistic scenarios for conversation enhancement while avoiding problems like subjects becoming exhausted by the recording process, and their difficulty keeping still.

The researchers hope to accumulate acoustic data quickly and inexpensively by getting the heads to "talk," "listen," swivel, and nod, and by algorithmically processing the results.

The data should inform the improvement of algorithms that will lead to better acoustic devices.

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