Using Research to Improve People's Quality of Life
Jim Kates, who does algorithm research for GN, was recently named a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America. Only 700 scientists have had that honor, but for Jim Kates, it is more important that hearing-impaired people benefi t from his research. And that's exactly what it does in GN's hearing instruments.
In Boulder, Colorado, there is a man named Jim Kates. He is a senior research engineer and makes up GN ReSound's one-man research unit reporting to GN's algorithm development department in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. Based at the University of Colorado, he works four days a week on acoustics research for GN ReSound. His work is driven by a desire to produce specific advantages for users of GN's hearing aids. On the fifth working day of the week he is an adjunct professor, teaching PhD-students in acoustics and digital signal processing at the University of Colorado.
"The research I'm conducting now won't be used in hearing instruments for another three to five years. Working with such a long-term time horizon, you have to have patience, and fortunately, that's not a problem for me," says Kates.
He was recently named a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America for his contributions to signal processing for hearing aids. This is one of the biggest honors awarded to acoustics researchers.
"I am very grateful and very proud of my appointment. It's a great recognition of my work. Ever since I went to school, I've taken an interest in sound, and very early, I took a course in acoustics. A very dedicated professor kept me interested in the subject," Kates explains.
From theory to practice
Jim Kates, 57, did academic work in acoustics in the 1990s and through his position at the University of Colorado, he has stayed in touch with the academic environment. His research in auditory perception and signal processing is well documented and he has produced 45 articles in scientific magazines, contributed to seven books, 12 reports, 52 presentations as well as 14 patents issued and 8 patent applications pending.
"I enjoy staying in touch with the academic environment and having the opportunity to discuss my research with leading acoustics experts, but I haven't had any second thoughts about changing over to industry. It feels
really good to see my research becoming reality in our hearing aids and to be able to help people with a hearing impairment," he says.
His job is to conduct basic research and contribute ideas to the algorithm departments in Eindhoven and Copenhagen, Denmark, which then implement his work in GN hearing aids.
"He is probably among the 10 most competent and knowledgeable people in the world when it comes to signal processing and audiology for hearing instruments. His exceptional experience and helpfulness makes him a Nestor to all of us in the entire department," says Jim Kates' boss Jos Leenen, who is the Director of the Algorithm Department at GN in Eindhoven.
Kates' contributions include several of the features in the ReSound Metrix and other devices. For example, he is the man behind the digital feedback suppression and warped compression technologies, both of which provide good speech reproduction, sound reproduction in a number of frequency ranges and minimize sound delay in the transformation from analog to digital sound in a hearing device.
He continues his work to fi nd solutions that will give hearing aid users an even better sound experience, and he is also writing a book on signal processing for audiologists.
For more information on GN ReSound, visit www.gnresound.com