Bioengineering projects 2013

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Nov 15, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)

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Bio
engineering projects
201
3


What is bio
engineering

(or biomedical engineering)
?

Bioengineering (or biomedical engineering) is a study field that applies theory and technology
from engineering (in our case, mostly electronic or computer engineering) to pr
oblems in
medicine and biology.


There are two different perspectives from which engineers can be involved in medicine and
biology. In the first, we apply our engineering skills to solve technological problems in these
application areas. Here the main fie
lds are diagnostic and therapeutic technology. Examples of
the former are biological signal monitors, like ECG monitors (heart monitors) and EEG monitors
(brain wave monitors) and medical imaging technology (e.g. CT and MRI scanners). Examples of
the latte
r include various types of assistive technology devices, like advanced wheelchairs or
robotic assistance for quadriplegics, cochlear implants for the deaf and human
-
computer
interfaces for quadriplegics.


In the second, which is called Bionics or Biomimet
ics, we use what we have learnt from
biological systems in the design of technological systems. Sometimes Bionics is also used to
describe prosthetic technology, especially where the latter closely mimics the functioning of the
biological system that is re
placed (e.g., the cochlear implant device is also known as the bionic
ear).


A list of projects for 2013 may be found below.
Not all of these projects will
be awarded

in
201
3
,
but those that generate
the most interest from students will.





Bionics proj
ects


Project B
1


1. Title: Noise cancellation front end for a
bionic ear (
cochlear implant
)
, based
on auditory scene analysis

2. Study leader: Prof JJ Hanekom

3. Intended degree programme: Electronic or computer engineering

4. Research Group: Bioengineer
ing

5. Nature of project: design
/investigative


Brief description of the project

Cochlear implants are devices that are used to stimulate the auditory systems of deaf people
electrically, in order to elicit a sound sensation. Speech understanding of cochle
ar implant users
can be thought of as being similar to that of a hard
-
of
-
hearing person, but they have great
difficulty in communicating in noisy circumstances (e.g. when there are multiple speakers). The
student must design a front end for a cochlear impl
ant that reduces noise and increases clarity
of sound for the implant user, based on knowledge from
psychoacoustics
.


What will be expected of the student

The noise reduction front end should consist of a DSP board that must be interfaced with a
cochlear
implant. Note that the noise reduction will not be a simple filter! An algorithm, based
on knowledge gained from the field of auditory scene analysis (ASA), will need to be developed,
and this must run in real time on the DSP. Finally, experimental work wi
th cochlear implant
users as listeners will be undertaken.



Projects of
Prof JJ Hanekom

appear below


(also see the projects of Prof T Hanekom)


Project B
2

1. Title: Adaptive noise cancelling front end for a
bionic
ear (
cochlear implant
)

2. Study leader: Prof JJ Hanekom

3. Intended degree programme: Electronic or computer
engineering

4
. Research Group: Bioengineering

5. Nature of project: design


Brief description of the project

Cochlear implants are devices that are used to stimulate the auditory systems of deaf people
electrically, in order to elicit a sound sensation. Speech understa
nding of cochlear implant users
can be thought of as being similar to that of a hard
-
of
-
hearing person, but they have great
difficulty in communicating in noisy circumstances (e.g. when there are multiple speakers). The
student must design a front end for
a cochlear implant that reduces noise and increases clarity
of sound for the implant user, based the theory of adaptive noise cancellation.


What will be expected of the student

The noise reduction front end should consist of a DSP board that must be inter
faced with a
cochlear implant. Note that the noise reduction will not be a simple filter! An algorithm, based
on the theory of adaptive noise cancellation, will need to be developed, and this must run in real
time on the DSP. Microphone placement and direc
tionality have to be taken into account in the
design. Finally, experimental work with cochlear implant users as listeners will be undertaken.


Project B
3


1. Title:
Real time
bionic ear (
cochlear implant
)

simulator

2. Study leader: Prof JJ Hanekom

3. I
ntended degree programme: Electronic or
computer engineering

4. Research Group: Bioengineering

5. Nature of project: design


B
rief description of the project

Cochlear implants are devices that are used to stimulate the auditory systems of deaf people
elect
rically, in order to elicit a sound sensation.


An acoustic model for a cochlear implant allows people with normal hearing to hear what
cochlear implant users hear (such an acoustic model is available). This will sound severely
distorted
. The objective of

this particular project

is to (i) develop an acoustic simulation of a
cochlear implant (there is a large body of knowledge available on this)
, and (ii) to implement this
in real time. The idea is to have a normal
-
hearing listener

listen to sounds (e.g. au
diological test
material) in real time. This listener will hear what a cochlear implantee hears (or, is thought to
hear), and will react
in the same way.


What will be expected of the students that work on
this project


1.

An understanding of cochlear implant
s and cochlear implant signal processing

2.

To
test and a
dapt
a

current acoustic model (developed in Matlab)

3.

To implement this model on a real
-
time platform



Project B
4

1. Title: Music processing in
bionic ears (
cochlear
implants
)

2. Study leader: Prof J
J Hanekom

3. Intended degree programme: Electronic or
C
omp
uter E
ngineering

4. Research Group: Bioengineering

5. Nature of project:
investigative


Brief description of the project

Cochlear implantees generally do well in speech recognition tasks under contr
olled conditions,
but have more difficulty in noise. Music recognition is generally poor, and music appreciation
among cochlear implantees is rare.


Speech recognition (or speech intelligibility) testing has been standardized in cochlear
implantees. Test p
rocedures usually include carefully developed sentence tests, and analytical
tests. The latter tests evaluate vowel and consonant confusions, and information transmission
analysis may then be used to provide an indication of which cues important to vowel a
nd
consonant identification are not transferred to the electrically stimulated auditory system. This,
in turn, can assist with the development of more appropriate speech processing algorithms and
improved mapping procedures.


Tests of music recognition abi
lity are not as advanced as those for speech, and a need exists for
improved test materials. Specifically, analytical test materials that can quantify which cues
important to music are not transferred to the electrically stimulated auditory system would be

valuable.


The present project concerns the development of (i) methods to measure the ability of cochlear
implantees to recognize pitch and/or melodic contours, and (ii) a cochlear implant preprocessor
designed to enhance the cochlear implant user's abili
ty to follow contours.


What will be expected of the student


Points 1 and 3 below comprise the investigative components of the project, while points 2 and 4
are the design components of the project.


The student should do the following:



design an experim
ent to measure the ability of a listener to follow pitch or melodic
contours,



develop a computer interface to perform the experiment (possibly using a touch screen)



perform pilot experiments with listeners with normal hearing and at least one cochlear
impl
ant user,



design an algorithm to act as preprocessor for a cochlear implant, to enhance the ability
to follow contours.


The intention would be to implement the algorithm in the last point on a platform that allows
real
-
time operation.

Project B5


1. Tit
le: Robotic hearing in noise

2. Study leader: Prof JJ Hanekom

3. Intended degree programme: electronic or computer
engineering

4. Research group: Bioengineering

5. Nature of the project: Design


Brief description of the project


The idea with this project

is to use our present knowledge about processing in the human
auditory system as a basis for developing a system that can pick voice instructions to a robot out
of real environmental noises.


First, a simple simulation platform should developed. This sho
uld consist of a head mounted on
a platform that can be tilted and moved left and right with (e.g.) stepper motors. Microphones
should be mounted in this platform, and all processing should be done on board. I.e., the head
should contain a DSP board with a
dequate processing power. The development of the latter is
not necessarily part of this project; i.e. the student may decide to use an off
-
the
-
shelf DSP
board. Multiple microphones may be used.

The design and development of this robotic head platform may b
e shared with the student
doing project B1
0
.


The robotic head should respond to simple voice commands. These may include (e.g.)
commands like "pan left, fast". These should be presented in natural, but controlled SNR
conditions. The voice commands will or
iginate from anywhere in the robot's auditory field of
view. The robot may optimize SNR by moving its head from left to right and up and down and
may request repetitions of a command.


What will be expected of the student

Nature of the deliverables

This pr
oject entails the design of hardware (head platform based on stepper motors,
interface with DSP board, integration with microphones) and software (algorithms for
separating voice from noise; recognition of voice commands). These algorithms should
be tested

in Matlab before implementation on a DSP board.


New Knowledge, skills and engineering tools to be mastered by the student

Design of DSP board (optional)

Hardware design with stepper motors (or other preferred motors)

Matlab programming

Mastering of DSP b
oard and DSP programming

Mastering of sound source separation literature



Project B6


1. Title: Robotic directional hearing

2. Study leader: Prof JJ Hanekom

3. Intended degree programme: electronic or computer
engineering

4. Research group: Bioengineer
ing

5. Nature of the project: Design


Brief description of the project


The idea is to perform sound source localization with a robotic auditory system. A target speaker
should be tracked in real time by use of multiple microphones and (optional) a camera
installed
in the robot head.


First, a simple simulation platform should developed. This should consist of a head mounted on
a platform that can be tilted and moved left and right with (e.g.) stepper motors. Microphones
should be mounted in this platform,
and all processing should be done on board. I.e., the head
should contain a DSP board with adequate processing power. The development of the latter is
not necessarily part of this project; i.e. the student may decide to use an off
-
the
-
shelf DSP
board. Mult
iple microphones may be used.

The design and development of this robotic head platform may be shared with the student
doing project
B9
.


The robot should do nothing until a voice is heard. It should then turn the head towards this
voice. There are differen
t conditions to be designed for: static voice in quiet, static voice in
noise, moving voice in quiet and noise. In the latter scenario, the robotic head should track the
voice source.


What will be expected of the student

Nature of the deliverables

This pr
oject entails the design of hardware (head platform based on stepper motors,
interface with DSP board, integration with microphones) and software (algorithms for
direction finding of a sound source under the various conditions mentioned above).
These algor
ithms should be tested in Matlab before implementation on a DSP board.


New Knowledge, skills and engineering tools to be mastered by the student

Design of DSP board (optional)

Hardware design with stepper motors (or other preferred motors)

Matlab programm
ing

Mastering of DSP board and DSP programming

Mastering of sound source localization literature
Project B7

1. Title:
Realtime travelling wave
speech processor

2. Study leader: Prof JJ Hanekom

3. Intended degree programme:
electronic or computer enginee
ring

4. Research group: Bioengineering

5. Nature of the project:
design
/investigative


Brief description of the project


Cochlear implant (CI) speech processors generally use channel vocoder strategies that are based
on the tonotopic arrangement of the coc
hlea. I.e., to elicit a particular frequency sensation,
electrical stimulation pulses are applied to a chosen position along the electrode array. Although
electrical pulse trains usually have a fixed pulse repetition rate which is determined by the
number
of active electrodes, temporal information in the speech signal is encoded by
modulation of stimulus pulse amplitudes within each of the vocoder channels (frequency
bands). The cochlear travelling wave richly encodes frequency information of an input sign
al in
the cochlear place of maximum excitation (exploited in CI speech coding strategies) as well as in
other spatial and temporal aspects of the waveform. Basilar membrane displacement at any
given location before the place of maximal excitation is period
ic if the input signal is periodic,
and the travelling wave delay is frequency
-
dependent. Apart from one attempt that explicitly
encoded travelling wave delays in a cochlear implant speech processor, emulation of travelling
waves have not been used in coch
lear implant speech processors.


What will be expected of the student

The idea with this project is to develop a realtime implementation of a CI speech processor
based on the cochlear travelling wave. This will entail selecting or developing a suitable pl
atform
and developing code that emulates the travelling wave without large processing overheads.

Acoustics
projects


Project B8

1. Title:
Anechoic room / sound booth design

2. Study leader: Prof JJ Hanekom

3. Intended degree programme:
Electrical, Elect
ronic or
C
omputer engineering

4. Research group: Bioengineering

5. Nature of the project: design


Brief description of the project


A sound booth

is an enclosure that is treated to limit the leakage of sound to the inside. This is
used for audiological tes
ting. An anechoic room goes one step further to ensure that the inside
of the enclosure absorbs sounds so as to create an area within the enclosure that has
characteristics of the ideal free field. Such an environment can be used for (e.g.) testing of
loud
speaker transfer functions.


What will be expected of the student


The idea with this project is do a complete acoustic design, simulation (software to be
developed for this) and implementation of a small anechoic room. An existing enclosure will be
used
and converted into an anechoic room with known characteristics. The student will have to
learn some basics of acoustic design. The project entails the development of software to predict
the anechoic characteristics of any room, and the development and impl
ementation of a design
that needs to be optimized for the particular enclosure that will be available for this project.

Project B9

1. Title:
Focussed sound beam

2. Study leader: Prof JJ Hanekom

3. Intended degree programme:
Electrical, Electronic or C
o
mputer
engineering

4. Research group: Bioengineering

5. Nature of the project: investigative/design


Brief description of the project

Sound disperse
s away from a source, and loudspeakers have a theoretical maximum directivity.
This means that you may have
to listen to the music of your noisy neighbour even if you don't
want to. Headphones may partially solve this problem, but have their own issues. It would be
better if sound could simply be directed at the person that it was intended for, and not heard by
anybody else.


This project intends to design and implement a system that can focus sound beams (just as a
lens focusses light) to achieve sound beams that are focussed on a target. The targetted person
should hear the sound, but other people in the close

vicinity of this person should not hear the
sound.


What will be expected of the student

The student will design stand
-
alone hardware and software, integrated with loudspeaker arrays
or acoustic lenses, to achieve focussed sound beams. An experimental set
up to measure sound
directivity will be part of the project. The project will also entail theoretical work.
Speech processing
projects


Project B
10

1. Title: A system that estimates speech recognition in severely
degraded speech (
either
vowel
or

consonant

recognition)

2. Study leader: Prof JJ Hanekom

3. Intended degree programme: Electronic or
C
omp
uter E
ngineering

4. Research Group: Bioengineering

5. Nature of project:
investigative


Brief description of the projects

Cochlear implants are devices that are
used to stimulate the auditory systems of deaf people
electrically, in order to elicit a sound sensation.


Speech intelligibility tests that include vowel and consonant recognition are often used to
estimate what information is being transferred to the el
ectrically stimulated auditory system.
We have these data available for a number of cochlear implant users.


An acoustic model for a cochlear implant allows people with normal hearing to hear what
cochlear implant users hear (such an acoustic model is avai
lable). This will sound severely
distorted. If people with normal hearing perform the same speech intelligibility tests, we expect
results similar to cochlear implantees. But it should also be possible to design algorithms that
would be able to predict spe
ech recognition results, using the output of the acoustic model as
input. We wish to predict vowel and consonant recognition results, and compare this with the
results obtained by normal
-
hearing listeners listening to severely degraded (cochlear
-
implant
li
ke) speech.


What will be expected of the students that work on these two projects


4.

An understanding of cochlear implants and cochlear implant signal processing

5.

To use (and perhaps adapt) the current acoustic model (developed in Matlab)

6.

To set up experime
nts for vowel and consonant recognition with normal
-
hearing
listeners (
listening

to the acoustic model output)

7.

To develop algorithms in Matlab to accurately predict vowel and consonant recognition
(with the acoustic model output as input)




Diagnostic
te
chnology

projects

(measurement of biological parameters)


Project B
11


1. Title: Continuous blood pressure measurement system

2. Study leader: Prof JJ Hanekom

3. Intended degree programme:
Electrical,
Electronic or Computer engineering

4. Research group:
Bioengineering

5. Nature of the project: design


Brief description of the project

A device is required that can continuously monitor blood pressure over long periods of time
without the use of invasive cuffs. This will typically be a finger
-
mounted monitor

(see
photograph).



What will be expected of the student:

Hardware design

Display of blood pressure on the device

Storage and download to a PC of blood pressure data





Project B1
2

1. Title: Eye position tracking device

2. Study leader: Prof JJ Haneko
m

3. Intended degree programme: Electronic or computer
engineering

4. Research Group: Bioengineering

5. Nature of project: design


Brief description of the project


The idea with this project is to measure the position (or fixation point) of the eye of a
person,
and to track movements of the eye as the eye jumps from fixation point to fixation point with
saccadic eye movements. The user will sit in front of a computer screen, and the measurement
system can be mounted in front of him/her (e.g. a camera on t
op of the screen). A specific
problem will be to first locate the eye of the user (who will probably not hold his/her head still).


This device will be used as a visual system research tool. In the application, a computer screen
in front of the person ma
y have an object that is moving randomly across the screen, and we
want to measure the eye movements as the object is tracked by the eye. The eye movements
have to be stored on the computer.


What will be expected of the student

The student has to develop
the hardware and software to implement this system. It must be a
stand
-
alone device that connects to a PC to download data. The image processing software
needs to run on a DSP board that may be provided (or a new board may be designed). The
student will ha
ve to interface a camera to this board. Especially the development of the image
processing software, to run on a DSP board, will be challenging.


Therapeutic technology projects (r
ehabilitation
engineering
)


Project B13

1. Title: Image guided robotic feed
ing system for disabled people (one or two projects,
depending on which parts are developed from first principles)

2. Study leader: Prof JJ Hanekom

3. Intended degree programme:
Electrical, E
lectronic or
C
omputer engineering

4. Research group: Bioengineer
ing

5. Nature of the project: design


Brief description of the project


The idea is to design a system that picks up food (with a spoon


i.e. solid food in bite sized
chucks) and moves this to the mouth of a disabled person. The system should be camera
-
ba
sed
and should recognize the mouth of the person. The mouth should be tracked and food should
be deposited correctly.


See the picture below for an example of a commercially available system.



The project consists of two parts: (i) a simple mechanical sy
stem able to pick up food (it can be
simpler than that shown in the figure). (ii) a vision system to ensure that food is deposited
correctly.


Project B14

1. Title: Speech

interface for people with severe
communication disabilities

2. Study leader: Prof
JJ Hanekom

3. Intended degree programme:
Electrical,
Electronic or
C
omp
uter E
ngineering

4. Research Group: Bioengineering

5. Nature of project: design


Brief description of the project

This project involves designing a communicating device for a person who

is unable to speak and
has limited use of his
/her

arms

and hands. Typically, these people may communicate by pointing
to letters on a page.

A device that enables easier communication and that generates speech,
needs to be developed.


What will be expected

of the student

It will be required of the student to customize a smartphone or similar embedded device for
efficient and comfortable use by
the disabled person, or to design the hardware for a
standalone device
. This will include determining and developi
ng a good interface for the person
(for instance a glove keyboard or oversized simplified keyboard.)
Software should be developed

to allow

the user to type with t
he minimum amount of keystrokes, possibly
by means of
predictive text. A text
-
to
-
speech synt
hesizer must also be implemented that allows for easy
communication once sentences have been formed.