AUDIOLOGY FROM AFAR
ECU research enables remote hearing exams
May 14, 2013
Implementing the research could bring convenient, preventative medical care to people in rural or remote areas and underserved populations.
“We were looking to duplicate exactly what’s going on in the doctor’s office,” Givens said.
Yao and Givens’ work is funded, in part, as a pilot project for Operation Re-entry North Carolina. With this technology, returning soldiers could be tested for hearing deficiencies – often a result of proximity to bombing and gunfire – without coming to campus.
“Traditionally, a patient has to go to the hospital,” he said. “Now they can stay at home or go somewhere close.”
Other potential users of the technology are school or health care systems and prisons, where transportation costs for inmates could be reduced by remote hearing tests, Givens said.
Givens applauded the work of Yao and the cross-campus partnership.
“Jason has taken this project from first base to home plate,” Givens said. “It was a very different system before Jason got ahold of it.”
Likewise Yao said Givens has been a pioneer in telemedicine through innovations in audiology over the past 20 years. Givens, who has received multiple patents for his work, said the timing is right for mobile computing. While connectivity has improved, it is vital to the success of remote hearing tests.
“Engineering is something where you can create things to help people’s lives,” Yao added.
The software is currently housed on a server in the College of Technology and Computer Science. The hardware prototype was transported March 29 to Givens in the College of Allied Health Sciences for testing.
A preliminary test was successfully done last year between audiology doctoral student, Kaila Higuchi, who was in Greenville, and Yao, who was in China. Testing and modifications will be done for at least another year, Givens said. Higuchi also recently received a 2013-2014 fellowship through Operation Re-entry for her work on the project.
Yao is assisted in his research by Dr. Daoyuan Yao, a post-doctoral scholar also in the Department of Engineering.