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The Year 2019 in Review

 

"Speech and Audio News"

In March we acquired our newest research vehicle, a Mercedes Benz V-Class. This automobile displays optimal conditions for the application of in-car communication (ICC) systems, since the distance between the first and the third row significantly impedes natural communication. In the course of the year, the vehicle was progressively refitted for our research needs. Thus, we were already able to perform first tests of signal processing algorithms inside our newest acquisition.

Furthermore, we conducted a thorough acoustic measurement of our Mercedes Benz E-Class Cabriolet. In this process, we obtained impulse responses regarding all ICC loudspeaker-microphone combinations, the paths between passenger loudspeakers (mouth) and ICC microphones, and ICC loudspeakers and passenger microphones (ears). Combining these three categories of impulse responses, we are now able to fully simulate the acoustic conditions of the transmission from speaking to listening passengers. Since we also recorded environmental noise at each microphone location during numerous measurement drives, the entirety of this new data enables us to simulatively test new algorithms with feasible effort and to easily compile material for necessary listening tests.

We are also excited about the fact, that we were able to start a new project regarding the evaluation of ICC systems. For the future, this will enable our team to efficiently exploit the interdependence between algorithm development, ambiance simulation, and system evaluation.

 

"Medical News"

The medical team – consisting of Elke, Eric, Patricia, and Robbin - made some great progress for their own PhD theses and for the whole team during the last year.

In the field of nerve analysis, we were able to achieve numerous positive progress together with PD Dr. Helmut Laufs and Prof. Wilhelm Schulte-Mattler. We presented our research results successfully at several conferences. Eric has also worked on journal publications. End of last year, one of the publications, "Signal Modelling and Simulation of temporal Dispersion and Conduction Block in Motor Nerves" was published as early access by IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. A magnetic nerve measurement with the sensors of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) is currently not possible because the sensitivity is still not sufficient for nerve signals. Therefore, our nerve analysis activities are no longer involved in a further funding period of the CRC 1261, as we have meanwhile focused on the electrical acquisition of nerve signals, their digital processing, and analysis. As a result, we will apply for a separate project that will help us to continue this promising research area and successfully transfer our findings into clinical routine.

Christin proceeded her localization setup and did first TDMA and FDMA measurements. Additionally, Nico Simoski (master thesis with Christin as supervisor) did some first active shielding measurements with optically pumped magnetometers (OPMs). Christin is going to extend these first attempts for OPMs and Magnetoelectric sensors.

In her master thesis Patricia took a closer look at the existing technical possibilities of tremor analysis. These should be further developed in order to differentiate between tremor of Parkinson's disease, an essential and a physiological tremor. For this purpose, different algorithms of machine learning were used, which use features extracted in real time for classification. First good results have been achieved, which will be further improved in the near future.

Thanks to advances in wearable sensor technology, the focus of clinical gait analysis shifts from supervised laboratory assessments to unsupervised ambulatory assessments. To extract gait features from ambulatory assessments, we have developed custom algorithms to extract episodes of walking from accelerometer data. Subsequently, from the walking episodes we derive quantitative and qualitative gait features that have clinical relevance in (early) diagnosis and progression tracking of neurological diseases like Parkinson’s.

Elke has measured over 90 participants in the last year with a full body inertial measurement system. She has started to analyse the data to quantify mobility related symptoms in movement disorders. The viewpoint she has been writing about long-term unsupervised mobility assessments with wearables got accepted by The Lancet Neurology.

Finally, Minh finished his PhD in 2019 about movement analysis. We wish him all the best for his future life!

 

"SONAR News"

In 2019 we were able to win Bastian Kaulen as the fourth member of our underwater signal processing team. In addition to personnel expansion, we have also been able to add some new hardware: Since May, we can call another boat (CASSY) our own. In accordance with our status as a research group, some modifications were made to the boat in summer for our needs and a maiden voyage was organized.

In addition, an underwater drone with a camera was installed to get a view of our hardware under water from the boat. For our MIMO signal processing guys, MIMO sonar projectors are now available since the end of 2019. The manufacturer of the MIMO SONAR projectors, ATLAS Elektronik GmbH, has been won as a cooperation partner and now provides additional amplifiers for the projectors. In addition, there is a joint project to extend the ATLAS-SONAR simulator with a communication interface.

2019 was also a successful year on the algorithmic side: Our own SONAR simulator now supports the split of channel simulation and SONAR simulation on different computers and the simulation of communication links. This not only has advantages for the computing load, but is also a bit more realistic, so that the time-to-experimental test can be further reduced in future. In our real-time framework KiRAT you can now find a complete implementation of the MIMO algorithm, an implementation and test of different tracking algorithms and improved detection algorithms and a first implementation of mixed analog-digital voice communication. In 2020 we are looking forward to test and improve our algorithms already implemented in KiRAT extensively on the water.

 

Outreach

As in the previous years we gave a couple of talks in schools and at public events such the "Digitale Woche". A highlight, however, was a talk in the "Ehrensaal" of the "Deutsches Museum" in Munich in February, 13th. We presented our research results on speech enhancement in adverse environments and quite of lot of interested Munich people listened to this talk and asked a lot of questions afterwards.

We organized a couple of events for the citizens of Kieler, e.g. as one of the "Kieler Wissenschaftsspaziergänge". These events include typically about one hour of introductory talks. Afterwards we usally have three to six demo sessions (e.g. magnetic heart measurments or demos in our cars) where interested people can try out our systems. We were also asked the by "Industrie- und Handelskammer zu Kiel" to organize one of their yeary industry-meets-science events which we did of course.

Furthermore, we extended our work with pupils. We organized an event for the Isarnwohld-Schule in Gettorf and looked at such pupil events also from the perspective of learning and motivation with the help of the IPN. If you are interesed in such events, please have a look at this website.

 

Some "Numbers"

  • This year the number of publications was not as large as last year, but anyhow: we published 15 papers on conference and as journal publications.

  • Unfortunately there were less bachelor and master theses in 2019 than in the year 2018. Eight theses were started in 2018: four bachelor theses and four master theses.

  • In terms of doctoral degrees the year 2019 was fine. Ming and Christin (Baasch) successfully completed their dissertation.

 

Our "GaS Club"

In 2019 the "Gesellschaft für angewandte Signalverarbeitung" (GAS) could extend the number of supporting members to 36 (plus two companies). Alexander Willbrandt and Nico Simoski joined in 2019 - a warm welcome to both of you. The best thesis in the field of digital signal processing and system theory is annually awarded by the society. Particular attention is paid to scientific and technical claim and the practical relevance of the work. In addition, the student’s commitment and his ability to work multidisciplinary and in a team are evaluated by the complete DSS-Group. Jannek Winter got the prize with his bachelor thesis “Implementierung einer robusten Unterwasserkommunikationsschnittstelle in einem Echtzeitrahmenwerk”. More information can be found here. Furthermore, we encouraged students to present their work on conferences and support them in terms of paying the conference fees. This has started in this year, but the first conferences will be in 2020. However, the papers are written and currently under review of the corresponding workshop.

 

Some Pictures from 2019

 
Our retreat in Sylt ...   The routing machine (Oberfräse) - a man's best friend ...
     
 
Measurements at the UKSH ...   ICC recordings ...
     
 
Science meets school ...   CASSy and captain Alexej ...