Evaluation of Crowdsourced Entries from a Cochlear Implant Hackathon in CI Recipients

Contact coordinator to participate

  • Last updated: 2023-10-11


This is a research study investigating novel sound processing strategies on speech and music perception in cochlear implant users.

In 2021, UCSF coordinated a global cochlear implant hackathon with a goal to inspire the general public to improve CI sound processing. Research teams from around the world came up with ways to improve the software for processing speech and sounds to help people with cochlear implants to hear better. There were several novel strategies from the hackathon which outperformed the current technology by Advanced Bionics. Today, we are testing the winning strategies from the hackathon in CI users.

The research takes place at the UCSF Cochlear Implant Center at the UCSF Mt. Zion campus and is focused on improving hearing outcomes for the perception of speech in noise and music in cochlear implant users. If you are interested in participating, you will undergo temporary deactivation of the baseline programs on your cochlear implants and complete a variety of hearing tests. We will have you listen to and evaluate a series of sounds representing samples of cochlear implant sound processing strategies. Then we will restore your cochlear implant processors to their original settings. The study poses minimal risk.

Participants will be compensated for their time with a $200 Visa debit card.


The purpose of this study is to compare pre-processed audio samples generated using winning algorithms from the Cochlear Implant Hackathon with clinically available cochlear implant processing strategies to improve hearing outcomes in CI users.

Study design

Participants will use their clinically prescribed and FDA-approved CIs for the study. The baseline sound processing program will be temporarily deactivated using commercially available software for the duration of the study. Participants will connect their CIs to a PC or tablet via Bluetooth. Audio stimuli will be presented at levels approximate to normal conversational levels (60-70 dB). Participants will be asked to press a button, respond verbally, or use a keyboard to enter a response.

We anticipate the total participant time (including setup and experiment) to take 2-3 hours.

Approximately 15 people will take part in this study.

Inclusion criteria

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Unilateral or bilateral user of the Advanced Bionics Naída CI M90 or Q90 processor
  • Minimum of 6 months of CI experience
  • English language proficiency

What will happen if I take part in this research study?

If you meet the study criteria to be in the main part of the study and you choose to continue, this is what will happen next:

  1. You will be asked to complete a few short questionnaires. For example, these might gather information about your cochlear implant and your auditory experiences with speech in noise and music with your current cochlear implant processors.
  2. The following information will be collected once from your medical record for use in analyzing the study data: age, date(s) of implant, bilateral/unilateral implant status, make and model of cochlear implant, and processing strategies used by the patient.
  3. The baseline sound processing program on your cochlear implant processor will be temporarily deactivated during the duration of the study. This helps to isolate pre-processed audio samples from additional onboard processing during the listening tasks.
  4. Your cochlear implants will be connected to Bluetooth audio output from a PC or tablet.
  5. You will be asked to complete a variety of hearing tests, in which you will listen to different types of sounds and musical clips, and answer a few response questions about each.
  6. Your clinically used processor strategies will be reverted to original settings. The clinically used processors or sound processing strategies will not be modified.

The temporary deactivation and reactivation of sound processing programs on your cochlear implant and testing may be done at the UCSF Cochlear Implant Center.

Collaborators and investigators


UCSF School of Medicine


  • Advanced Bionics
  • University of Minnesota


  • Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Sharon, MD
  • Co-investigator: Kris Merrill
  • Research coordinator: Danny Wong