AV Research Room
Boys Town National Research Hospital
This is the auditory visual core facility and what we’re sitting in now is the AV booth and this was created by a grant that we obtained from the national institutes of health to study communication and perception in children. For years, I’ll say decades, we’ve been studying hearing problems in adults and children, and quite often using headphones or a single loudspeaker or stereo loud speakers, but for a more real world study of people and they’re hearing kinds of disorders. We need a much more flexible kind of arrangement of sound.
We have these arrays of speakers that are set up around the room. So we can surround the user with speakers and have complete control over the environment. In addition to simulating a classroom environment, we can simulate a noisy restaurant. This is really important for users with unilateral hearing loss who have a hard time hearing in environments with lots of talkers surrounding them.
We can also simulate other challenging environments like an auditorium. But outside of real world we can also simulate abstract environments where we place the user in a space and remove all distractions except for the stimuli that we’re interested in studying.
Even though it’s a sound booth it is not limited to auditory only studies. We can do hearing loss studies. We can do balance studies and we are also planning to do virtual reality studies in this space. For balance we have a very wide open space which is accessible for virtual reality setups. That allows us to measure your balance in virtual reality as you move throughout this controlled environment. We also have accessibility to a projector for doing visual studies.
Before we constructed this booth we didn’t have access to such accurate room acoustic simulations or virtual reality presentations that allow you to simulate environments of unlimited capacity. Now that we have that, our ability to ask research questions is no longer limited by the size of the booth or the environment visually that we put the subject in. This is a tremendous opportunity. We think we’ve constructed something here that is unique in the world in our emphasis on children. It really changes the paradigm of the kind of research questions that we can ask. Researchers here are thinking of new kinds of studies and we’re also in the process of recruiting new researchers that want to do the kinds of experiments that need this sort of facility to complete them.
This is a lab that we could use for many decades. It’s something that will continue to grow and continue to expand and our goal is to match the acceleration of technology and the advancements of new technology so that we can stay at the cutting edge of auditory and balance research.
Boys Town National Research Hospital has built a unique, cutting edge Audio/Video booth to help with the many research studies emphasizing children's hearing. In addition, the AV booth has the flexibility to be used for numerous visual studies and balance studies, utilizing virtual reality technology. This booth represents a wonderful opportunity for our research to expand and help further our mission of changing the way America cares for children, families and communities.