For more information, please contact:
William L. Chapin
+1 (650) 322-8746
July 15, 2004, Mt. View, CA -- AuSIM has been awarded a new 6-month research contract
with the US Army under their STTR program, set up to facilitate the transfer of technology from University
research groups to small firms in the private sector. AuSIM will be working with the University of Wisconsin
to develop and implement biologically-inspired algorithms to determine the direction of origin of environmental
Situational awareness is critical for the soldier on the battlefield. Visual aids such as night vision
goggles and infrared technology augment visual capabilities, but today's battlefield threats are often visually
concealed while emitting intermittent audible sounds. So, AuSIM's new research initiative will investigate ways
to augment aural capabilities to help determine the direction and range of a threat, which can include gunfire,
airborne threats, ground vehicles, etc.
Several possible strategies for augmenting or remotely exercising aural capabilities will be investigated,
Localization: Equipment to collect sound from multiple microphones will be coupled with algorithms to
separate the direct sound waves from the reflected waves, and the direction of the sound origin will
be calculated. This location information will then be communicated to the listener both visually and through a persistently rendered 3D audio cue. The information gathered from a location-finding mechanism
is available to anyone connected to the system, so users wearing a networked source localization technology
will also benefit from the information collected by other participants in the field.
Better Persistence: A threat may only make a single short sound, and it may occur while the soldier’s
attention is elsewhere; the capability for recording and replaying a detected sound, or a representation,
multiple times while preserving its directional characteristics will give the soldier additional opportunities
to use his own localization skill to determine the direction of the sound.
Reverberation: A highly echoic environment increases the difficulty in discerning the direction of the
original sound versus the direction of the reflections; algorithms to segregate the original sound from
the reflections will allow persistent rendering of the original sound while removing the confusing
Occluded Hearing: Because soldiers’ hearing is often occluded by headgear such as hearing or
ballistic protection, their situational awareness can be impaired. While partially occluding sound
waves from the human ear can remove directional cues, multiple microphones with known directional
transfer functions provide the data necessary for a localization algorithm to determine the position
of the sound’s origin, and restore that knowledge to the human listener either visually or
through a rendered audio cue.
The overall objectives of the new research effort are to study promising biologically inspired
algorithms that 1) have the ability to localize multiple simultaneous sources,
2) are tolerant of environmental noise, 3) are energy efficient,
and 4) can outperform human localization ability.
About the Army STTR program
The STTR Program, like SBIR, is a government-wide program, mandated by the Small Business Research and
Development Enhancement Act of 1992. STTR was established as a companion program to the SBIR Program,
and is executed in essentially the same manner; however, there are several distinct differences.
While STTR has the same objectives as SBIR regarding the involvement of small businesses in federal R&D
and the commercialization of their innovative technologies, the STTR Program requires participation by
universities, federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), and other non-profit research
institutions. Specifically, the STTR Program is designed to provide an incentive for small companies, and
researchers at academic institutions and non-profit research institutions to: work together to move emerging
technical ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace, foster high-tech economic development, and advance
U.S. economic competitiveness. Each STTR proposal must be submitted by a team, which includes a small
business (as the prime contractor for contracting purposes) and at least one research institution, which
have entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement
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