First CI hackathon declares winning teams

Algorithms perform better than gold standard

The Cochlear Implant Hackathon is a joint effort between Advanced Bionics, University of California San Francisco, and University of Minnesota with a goal to inspire members of the general public to improve cochlear implant (CI) sound processing. Advanced Bionics, one of three FDA-approved cochlear implant manufacturers, sponsored the contest and provided a “gold standard” reference implementation of a fully-featured cochlear implant sound coding strategy. Advanced Bionics and the University of Minnesota further provided a software framework for contestants to develop and test their own algorithms, including an acoustic simulation of the sound percept produced by a CI in order for normal-hearing listeners to be able to optimize and ultimately judge the sound quality of the CI sound processing algorithms.

After the development phase of the competition, each algorithm was crowd-judged for its performance in four different sound categories: natural speech, speech in a noisy environment, simple words, and music. A virtual competition format encouraged international participation with contestants from across five continents. Top tier entries represented academic institutions, commercial entities, and individuals. Winning teams for the Cochlear Implant Hackathon were announced this week, with awards of $5000 for first prize, $2000 for second, and $1000 for third. Bonus awards of $250 were awarded to other top four teams in each category for performing better than the “gold standard”. Top three teams will have opportunities to collaborate with Advanced Bionics to integrate novel strategies with current sound processing techniques.

Winning Teams

The top three teams which performed well in each of the four categories are:

  • Pepino-Barchi - Leonardo Pepino and Germán Barchi, independent researchers with a background in acoustic engineering, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Googlears - Richard F. Lyon, Google Research; Mihajlo Velimirović, Google Research; Samuel J. Yang, Google Research; Scott Wisdom, Google Research; Pascal Getreuer, Google Research; Chet Gnegy, Google Research; Sagar Savla, Google Research
  • Binding Hack -Ravinderjit Singh, M.D. / PhD Candidate, IUSM/Purdue University; Andres Llico, M.S., PhD Candidate, Purdue University

Honorable mentions

Honorable mentions for exceeding gold standard performance in at least one judging category go to the following teams (in alphabetical order):

16-SAMurai: Tamás Harczos, (1) Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT, Ilmenau, Germany, (2) Auditory Neuroscience and Optogenetics Laboratory, German Primate Center, Göttingen, Germany, (3) audifon GmbH & Co. KG, Kölleda, Germany; András Kátai, Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT, Ilmenau, Germany

Cochlear Ethereal Audio: Alan Kan, Ph.D., Macquarie University; Qinglin Meng, Ph.D., Lecturer, South China University of Technology; Huali Zhou,Graduate student, South China University of Technology; Zhenyu Guo, Doctoral student, South China University of Technology; Yu Lan, Graduate student, South China University of Technology; Junming Li, Undergraduate student, South China University of Technology; Nengheng Zheng, Associate Professor, Shenzhen University; Yuyong Kang, Graduate student, Shenzhen University; Xi Chen, Graduate student, Shenzhen University; Yupeng Shi, Researcher, Tencent Ethereal Audio Lab; Wei Xiao, Principal Researcher, Tencent Ethereal Audio Lab; Shidong Shang, Head of the Tencent Ethereal Audio Lab

Haphazard Hamming: Max Jiam, Undergraduate Student at Carnegie Mellon University

Southeastern-3: Sanichiro Yoshida, Ph.D., Professor of Physics, Southeastern Louisiana University; Anthony Calmes, Graduate student, Integrated Science and Technology, Southeastern Louisiana University; Conor McGibboney, Graduate student, Integrated Science and Technology, Southeastern Louisiana University

Steel City Sounds: Keiko Gutierrez, B Mus., McMaster University; Daniel Shields, B Eng., McMaster University; Brendan Tao, McMaster University; Larissa Taylor, MASc, McMaster University; Michael Wirtzfeld, PhD, McMaster University; Melih Yahli, MASc, McMaster University