Safe and sound

AMI Semiconductor has announced the availability of software to mitigate the problems of acoustic shock in products such as communication headsets. Offered on the BelaSigna 200 and 250 audio processing platforms, the new hardware/software will allow manufacturers to design products that protect users from injury, while helping employers conform to new workplace safety legislation.

Acoustic shock is a growing problem in workplace environments such as call centres. It occurs when a sudden peak in sound reaches a persons ears. Prolonged exposure to these high levels of sound can result in serious long-term harm. Since 15 February 2006 EU employers have a legal duty to reduce the risk of damage to their workers hearing, under directive 2003/10/EC. This defines acoustic shock as any sound over 118dB.

A DSP-based approach enables the frequency spectrum of each instance of acoustic shock to be analysed and processed differently, depending on the nature of the sound. The devices can be supplied with a variety of audio processing software from AMIS or designers can take advantage of a suite of tools to develop their own applications.

AMI Semiconductors audio group manager, David Coode, said: Our new solution combines the programmable BelaSigna signal processing devices with sophisticated algorithms in a configuration that can be easily deployed between the telephony system and the headset electronics. Not only can it be used to mitigate acoustic shock, its powerful DSP capabilities can also be used to perform other audio processing tasks such as noise reduction and audibility enhancement to ensure clear communication.