Australia’s National Acoustic Laboratories’ NAL-NL2 has won the Cooperative Research Centre Association’s Inaugural Collaboration Award. The mathematical formula, known as NAL-NL2, was developed collaboratively through the HEARing Cooperative Research Center (CRC) and the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL).

NAL-NL2 has been included in hearing aid fitting software used by hearing health professionals around the world. The formula helps to better match a hearing aid to the needs of the wearer, resulting in enhanced speech intelligibility and improved loudness in a variety of different listening situations.

According to a 2005 World Health Organization study, there are millions of hearing aid users. Each requires a unique pattern of sound manipulation that is "prescribed" for their hearing loss. Poorly configured prescriptions distort signals and create unacceptably loud sounds in hearing aids, decreasing their communication benefits.

NAL-NL2’s technology, combined with Siemens Hearing incorporating the algorithm into its fitting software, has helped to make NAL-NL2 one of two international fitting standards in audiology clinics since its release in 2010.

NAL’s director and adjunct professor, Harvey Dillon, who reportedly played an instrumental role in the development of the NAL-NL2 prescription formula, as well as its predecessor NAL-NL1, explained that NAL-NL2 incorporates more extensive data on how much information hearing-impaired people can extract from speech at different levels and in different frequency ranges.

“It uses more sophisticated methods of predicting speech intelligibility and loudness for people with different degrees and configurations of hearing loss. The final formula, which brings all the data together, is even more sophisticated and is based on neural network mathematics,” Dillon said.

Robert Cowan, HEARing CRC’s CEO, said, “We’re delighted that our innovation has been recognized by the Cooperative Research Centre’s Inaugural Award for Excellence in Collaboration for our work on NAL-NL2. Our National Acoustic Laboratories staff came up with a brilliant formula for prescribing hearing aids, and Siemens provided invaluable input into how it should be best packaged for use in the commercial manufacture’s software. It’s a text book example of collaboration for the translation of technology from a research lab to a clinical environment, which is ultimately improving the lives of hearing-impaired people around the world.”