The Listening Studio, a unique new audio and visual laboratory with state-of-the-art testing equipment for the hearing impaired, designed by architect Brooks Atwood, an NJIT adjunct professor of architecture, has opened in lower Manhattan.
All lumber and parts for the project were fabricated on the NJIT campus at the Fab Lab—a facility with computerized equipment that can turn out unusual and custom-cut lumber. Gene Dassing, of Caldwell (shown left), Benjamin Lindner, of Manalapan, and Kevin Kuziola numbered among the NJIT architecture students who provided the labor, working for months, to complete the project.
(ATTENTION REPORTERS: Atwood and several students will be available for interviews. Also available are high-resolution photos of students working on the project.)
Atwood, of POD DESIGN+MEDIA, collaborated on the project with sound designer and artist Daniel Perlin. The new studio features audio and video installations which can provide different voices in conversations set against different backgrounds with ambient audio in real time The conversations were designed to challenge the hearing capabilities of spectators or patients.
Atwood and the students using the NJIT facilities digitally fabricated the wooden parts of which no two are alike. Equipment at the Fab Lab includes a computerized and numerically-controlled machine. Computer-assisted design software guided the project. One of the most unusual aspects was that no parts were cut by hand and no hardware—not even a screw—was needed for assembly.
The finished product, located in the Center for Hearing and Communication, contains a 5.1 surround-sound system, 16 HD videos on flat screen monitors and a custom musical keyboard which serves as the testing interface.
“We designed the Studio to extend the capabilities of people with hearing problems beyond the usual testing and hearing aids,” said Atwood. “The audiologists can simulate real-world environments in real-time within the room. They can also simulate what it would sound like if you or I had a hearing problem.”
Hearing aid manufacturers, he added, do not typically test or record data/feedback. This environment, on the other hand, is able to provide the first feedback collected and even report it back to the manufacturers. The lab can simulate more than 500 scenarios (using eight backgrounds and environments and eight foregrounds and conversations).
The facility is open to the public. A trained laboratory technician is available to test hearing aids or cochlear implants. Upon receiving the results, visitors may elect for a fee to have their hearing devices adjusted.