Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:34 am

Microphone-Pi audio network project feasible?

Thu Dec 07, 2023 7:07 pm

I've been hearing impaired for a long time and am frustrated at the gear available to understand what people are saying in a group setting. There is nothing that meets my needs. We won't all be sitting at a conference table. The #1 problem for all hearing aid users is discerning what someone is saying in an even slightly noisy room. We need to understand more than 95% of the words people says to follow a conversation. More than 1 person speaking makes it impossible to understand what anyone is saying, not to mention a bunch of other factors like how reflective the room's surfaces are.

A solution I imagine is using a battery-powered Raspberry Pi (I have a 3B atm) as a base station for myself and multiple battery-powered Zero W's or Pico W's each connected to a microphone, one for each person whom I want to understand. (I currently have 2 Pico Ws, and a Zero W, but could get others.)

In operation, they would transmit only and my base station would receive only—all their signals simultaneously, mix them, and broadcast it to my (Bluetooth-enabled) hearing aids. Making the whole system give me a comprehensible stream would be phase 2 of this project if I ever get that far (a method for buffering incoming streams and a strategy for streaming only one a time to me).

I'm an ex-professional software developer, still familiar with C++, but unfamiliar with pretty much all other current software technology, including most of the guts/APIs of Linux, W-Fi, and Bluetooth, although am fine with Linux as a shell user.

Does anyone know if this project idea is technically feasible or not?

The various Bluetooth devices I've used for years have been a nightmare when it comes to handling multiple simultaneous Bluetooth connections. My hypothesis is that I should form a Wi-Fi LAN with my and the others' Pis rather than try to make a Bluetooth network between the devices. I don't know anything about networking or audio programming other than tidbits I've picked up over the years.

I am willing to do some learning of new technologies, but I took a stab at starting this project a couple years ago and learned it would take too much of my personal time (over a year, and probably more attention span than I have) to thoroughly learn all the technologies I need.

Is there enough documentation available to guide me in creating something like this? I have a book on the Bluetooth protocol, but it is rather inferior. I am not averse to hiring people to write some code or scripts.

Thoughts, comments?

Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2024 11:18 pm

Re: Microphone-Pi audio network project feasible?

Sat Jan 27, 2024 11:23 pm

I definitely sympathize with you as to the annoying tendencies of Bluetooth to get in the way.

I think you are in the right track with use something like the Pirate Audio mic modules on a bunch of Pis if you want to brute force it, then you could use earcons to identity which speaker is talking and make it easier for an AI/ML tool to sort things out for transcriptions as well.

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