Presentation on Loss of Communication When Using Coronavirus Masks/Acrylic Barriers
Presentation on Research Results on
Difficulty of Hearing Speech Due to Tools for
Preventing Droplet-Based Infection
Overview of Survey
- Analyze acoustic characteristics of speech when using tools and visualize speech damping (done at TIRI)
- Online awareness survey on hearing when using tools (done at Universal Sound Design LHC)
The purpose of the study was to understand the difficulties present in hearing when using masks, face shields, acrylic barriers, etc., to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This was accomplished by analyzing differences in sound pressure levels when masks, face shields, acrylic barriers, etc., were used and were not used. The results of the survey showed marked damping in frequency bands that affect hearing of consonants when an acrylic barrier was used, and, when a face shield was used, there was an unnatural amplification of the middle register and a decrease in speech clarity.
Measurements & Methods
Audio playback: Broadband noise played through mouth simulator (speaker) placed in mouth of a mannequin (HATS)
Measurements: Measurements made by microphone placed at entrance to ear canal of right ear of listener
Frequency analysis method: One-third octave band analysis
Evaluation method: Evaluation of differences in sound pressure from results of using acrylic barriers to prevent droplet-based infection, masks, and face shields compared with control
*Control: nothing is worn by speaker and no acrylic barrier is used.
Speech characteristics when using a mask, face shield
1. With mask
2. With face shield
3. With face shield and mask
*All tests without acrylic barrier
“A damping of 5db is observed at 2000Hz and above when only a mask is worn. This means that the power behind consonant sounds like “t,” “sh,” and “h” is halved, which in turn means that a listener may not hear a consonant or be unable to differentiate between words like “he” and “she.”
“Shields cause similar damping at 2000Hz, but also have an amplifying effect at 800 to 1500Hz. We tend to think that increased volume is a good thing, but if a vowel’s second formant (f2) is emphasized, it can make it more difficult to differentiate between vowels.
“Wearing both a shield and a mask reduces clarity of consonants and the unnatural emphasis of a vowel’s second formant (f2) can lead to mistakes in hearing sounds like “ha” and “a” and being unable to differentiate between “he” and “she.” Being unable to hear consonants makes it difficult to hear numbers, and this can create problems at checkout because the listener needs to pay attention to the display on the register and is unable to communicate with the shop staff, which should instead be one reason to enjoy shopping.
“The maximum damping effect is 10dB, which means that if you use familiar words, speak slowly, enunciate, etc., you can still minimize any discrepancies even when wearing a mask or shield.
“Coronavirus was initially thought to have been transmitted via droplets, but we are now hearing from recent research that measures against aerosols are also necessary. This makes frequent ventilation necessary when using masks and shields, and seeing people for longer than 15 minutes should be avoided.”
4. No barrier
5. Barrier 1
6. Barrier 2
7. Barrier 3
8. Barrier 4
“If you’re going to try and prevent aerosols in addition to droplets, barriers are indispensable. Ideally, a barrier will be of an adequate height and provide protection on three sides, but the effect of damping increases as the barrier size increases and as protection on the sides is increased, achieving a maximum damping of 20dB. A damping of 20dB equates to a 50% decrease in volume at frequencies where consonants occur, making hearing more difficult. In noisy places like checkout areas at supermarkets and convenience stores, there is a high chance that this replicates what it is like to have a mild hearing impairment. If appropriate measures aren’t taken to respond to this drastic change in acoustic environment, occurrence of frequent mis-hearings and unheard speech is easy to imagine. In situations that require meetings of longer than 15 minutes, such as those at a bank or with an insurance agent, masks, face shields, and barriers are necessary to prevent transmission, but there is a need for speaker systems, etc., that improve hearing to keep meetings from running longer than they need to and improve work efficiency.”
Graduated as Doctor of Medicine from Department of Medicine, Juntendo University in 1986
Chairman of Japan Make Listening Safe Association
Chairman of Neuromarketing Association Japa
The difficulty in hearing caused by the use of masks, face shields, and barriers is of an even greater level for people with difficulty hearing and hearing impairments. Being unable to hear increases stress and a sense of isolation, and so now it is important to think about communication support and systems that can enable anyone to hear.
Additionally, in a survey on 1000 individuals aged 20 to 70 on awareness of hearing when using masks and barriers due to COVID-19, over 80% of respondents said that hearing someone’s voice was more difficult when they were wearing a mask or speaking through a barrier, and this difficulty hearing was evident even for younger generations. Over 80% of respondents also stated that they have acted as if they understood what was said even though they were unable to hear what the speaker was saying.
When surveying stressors related to communication, 30% of respondents selected “being unable to understand what the other person is saying,” making it the most common stressor. This suggests that being able to hear what the other person is saying is the most important part of daily communication.
- Have you ever had trouble hearing someone at a shop or service counter due to them wearing a mask or sitting behind an acrylic barrier? (N＝1000, SA)
- Where do you have difficulty understanding what people are saying? (N＝1000, SA)
- Have you ever pretended to hear what someone was saying when you couldn’t actually hear what they said? (N＝1000、SA)
- When do you feel stress when communicating with someone? (N＝1000, MA)
※The first rank from the top 3 answers.
Survey method: internet questionnaire
Survey period: September 2020
Target region: Japan
Subjects: 1000 men and women aged 20 to 70
When citing these survey results, please provide attribution to the Laboratory of Hearing Cognition of Universal Sound Design, Inc.
comuoon® tabletop communication support system
Comuoon® is a tabletop communication support system that achieves a new paradigm for conversation support by allowing the speaker, not the listener, to improve how well their speech can be heard. Instead of focusing on the issues facing existing devices like hearing aids that place the burden of accommodation on the listener, comuoon® instead converts what the speaker says into something much easier for the listener to hear and understand, making for improved conversation.
Frequency bands that affect speech clarity are understood to be those at 1,000Hz and above. Comuoon® utilizes its proprietary speaker and innovative construction to provide improved fidelity between 1,000 and 10,000Hz.
The benefits of comuoon® in speech discrimination for hearing impaired were presented from a neuroscientific standpoint at the 14th Annual World Congress of Brain Mapping and Therapeutics and the 118th Annual Meeting of the ORL Society of Japan, where it was explained that clarity, not volume, is necessary when speaking with a person with a hearing impairment.
Comuoon® can be used not only as a tool to help the hearing impaired, but also as a tool for hearing rehabilitation. Comuoon® has received a Good Design Award in 2015, 2016, and 2017 and was also selected to the Good Design Best 100.
Laboratory of Cognitive Hearing, Universal Sound Design Inc.
The Laboratory of Cognitive hearing conducts research on the effects of super-high resolution sound technologies on the human body.
Collaborative research on the effects of super-high resolution sound on the human body has been performed with a variety of universities, including Kyushu University, as well as other laboratories, medical facilities, and nursing facilities. The Laboratory also developed Sonic Brain®, a technology that makes it easier for the brain to understand speech. The Laboratory is currently involved in hearing frailty awareness through its Hearing Cognition Check app that helps visualize the user’s cognitive abilities to hear words and helps check for early-stage hearing loss.
About universal sound design inc.
- Founded: April 2012
- Capital: 338,310,000 yen
- Representative: Shinichiro Nakaishi, President & CEO
- Address: Marinx Tower 2F, Kaigan 1-9-11, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
- Operations: Design, development, and sales of hearing support devices
R&D and contract development related to the brain and hearing using high-resolution Sonic Brain acoustic technologies
Sound design and production consulting for various shops, buildings, and indoor spaces
Smartphone app planning, design, and development
Design, manufacture, and sales of audio equipment including speakers and amps
Repair and refurbishing of PA and SR audio equipment
- URL: http://u-s-d.co.jp/