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Siemens researchers honored with the German Future Prize for fourth time - Development of new hearing aids a source of innovation

, Siemens AG, Industry Sector

This year, Siemens researchers won the German Future Prize (Deutscher Zukunftspreis) for the fourth time - more than any other company. This prize is awarded by the German President and is Germany´s highest honor for technology and innovation. A research team led by Dr. Torsten Niederdränk in collaboration with the University of Oldenburg developed a so-called binaural hearing system that enables hearing aids in both ears to communicate. This represents an important evolutionary step toward spatial hearing and an improvement in the quality of life of those with hearing loss. German President Joachim Gauck awarded the German Future Prize in Berlin on the evening of November 28, 2012. The €250,000 prize was previously awarded to Siemens employees in 2004, 2005, and 2007 for developments in biochips, piezo technology, and light-emitting diodes.

This year’s laureates, Dr. Torsten Niederdränk from Siemens AG, Dr. Birger Kollmeier and Dr. Volker Hohmann from the University of Oldenburg, were congratulated personally by Federal President Joachim Gauck in a ceremony on November 28, 2012. This research team developed a so-called binaural hearing system that enables hearing aids in both ears to communicate.

"Receiving this award once again is truly a special honor. It shows that the researchers and developers at Siemens continue to demonstrate a pioneering spirit in a wide variety of fields," commented Klaus Helmrich, Chief Technology Officer and head of global research at Siemens AG. "This underscores our view that innovations are vital for the future business of our company."

Eight years ago, a Siemens research team for the first time successfully connected two hearing aids in the left and right ears via what was at the time the world´s smallest radio system. This achievement represented a major breakthrough in hearing aid technology, because, similar to vision, a spatial impression can only occur if the interplay between both ears is taken into account. The radio link enables both hearing systems to communicate with each other and provides for continuous coordination. "The hearing aids exchange large quantities of data, recalculate that data, and adjust to the specific hearing situation - synchronously and fully automatically," explained Dr. Torsten Niederdränk, audiology expert in global research at Siemens AG. This binaural technology provides for harmonious sound and helps the hearing impaired to follow a specific conversation even in larger gatherings.

German President Roman Herzog established the German Future Prize in 1997. Since then, the prize has been a symbol of the scientific performance and innovative strength of Germany. In selecting a winner, the jury takes a wide variety of important criteria into account, including research performance as well as the patentability and marketability of the development.

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, Siemens AG, Industry Sector

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