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PhD Studentship Opportunity in Audio for hearables: sound analysis for context-aware rendering

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, October 28, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Media content is consumed on-the-move in many different environments. A typical commuter, while listening to music over headphones, might encounter noise levels from quiet residential streets to crowded underground carriages. While the overall volume can be adjusted to compensate for these changes, the resulting loudness can be uncomfortable and long-term exposure is a potential cause of hearing loss. Finer adjustments (e.g., adjusting individual sounds’ relative loudness, tone or perceived location), accounting for the type, position and loudness of other (wanted and unwanted) sounds in the environment, would enable better listening experiences.

“Hearables” – in-ear headphones with built-in microphones and signal processing capability – are well-suited to this task. The InHEAR project (Intelligent Hearables with Environment-Aware Rendering) will use the built-in microphones and signal processing to develop an understanding of external sounds through machine listening, and propose perceptually-motivated audio rendering techniques to maximise the listener’s experience regardless of their current listening environment.

The Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP) is a world-class research environment bringing together research on computer vision, graphics, machine listening and signal processing. The centre is a national hub for research in audio-visual media and maintains strong collaborative links with the UK creative industries (e.g., film, games and broadcast).

This PhD is based in CVSSP and focuses on the characterisation of the listening environment using the built-in microphones. The student will work closely with another student based in the Institute of Sound Recording (IoSR), and with colleagues at B&O. The two students based at Surrey form part of a larger Bang & Olufsen-led project with external support (awaiting final confirmation) and collaborators at Aalborg University.

Entry requirements:
You will have a strong interest in audio and demonstrate a high level of academic achievement in relevant subject areas and a clear aptitude for research. We will need to be happy that you have the necessary background subject knowledge and the necessary research skills to begin your doctoral training.

You will ideally have a Masters in a relevant discipline and will definitely have a 1st or 2:1 Bachelors degree (or equivalent). You will be able to demonstrate excellent mathematical, analytical and computer programming skills. Advantage will be given to applicants with experience in one or more of: mathematics, programming, acoustics, psychoacoustics, signal processing, statistical analysis. Furthermore, you will have excellent research skills evidenced by a significant Bachelors/Masters research project, involving experimental research, appropriate use of the literature and/or computer-based simulations, and a formal dissertation-style report.

How to apply:
Applications should be made through the PhD course page: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/postgraduate/sound-recording-phd. Please mark clearly on your application that you wish to apply for the “InHEAR Project”. Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis.

Funding Notes

The studentship is for 42 months full-time study commencing in January 2020.
In addition to covering UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend of £15k/year, the student will have access to a generous travel budget (to support attendance at academic conferences, for example) and will have opportunities to undertake research at Bang & Olufsen’s headquarters in Denmark. Office space and all necessary equipment and software to undertake the research will be provided.

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