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Locally developed safe hearing device wins award

The commercial success of a device that now protects hearing centre and emergency services operators around the world has been recognised by the Cooperative Research Centre Program’s 2012 STAR Award.

The device known as ‘Soundshield’ protects telephonists from acoustic shriek injury caused by sudden exposure to loud noises which can result in painful ears, hearing loss, vertigo, and even anxiety and depression.

Soundshield was developed and commercialised through a collaboration between Polaris Communications ‐ Australia’s leading supplier of headset devices into the contact centre industry – and the HEARing Cooperative Research Centre.

HEARing CRC engineers worked closely with Polaris to assist the integration of the HEARing CRC’s shriek rejection algorithm into the commercial Soundshield platform enabling them to manufacture the device locally and supply it to Australian and overseas markets.

The CRC’s understanding of acoustic protection and the incorporation of several sound‐protection algorithms into the device helped Polaris gain a strong competitive advantage in the emerging industry.

The CRC's sound protection knowledge combined with Polaris’ engineering skills enabled the production of the world’s first commercially viable acoustic shock protection device, creating manufacturing jobs in Australia and export potential.

The collaboration between the HEARing CRC and Polaris has assisted the company in becoming the leader in acoustically safe headset solutions for the contact centre industry.

Since 2000, the HEARing CRC has worked with Polaris to give them a complete understanding of acoustic shock including why and how it occurs.

The result has been the emergence of Soundshield as the world’s number one acoustic safety solution with more than 120,000 call centres now installed with the device, including Telstra, the Australian Tax Office, Centrelink and other Australian companies.

The CRC STAR Award recognises the efforts of CRCs for their high level of achievement with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to drive and deliver new innovation. It also promotes the broader CRC Program’s objective of building the innovation, research and development capacity of SMEs.

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