Hearing research team wins 2012 German Future Prize (Deutscher Zukunftspreis)

Oldenburg. 29 November 2012.

The hearing research team lead by the Oldenburg physicist and doctor Prof. Dr. Dr. Birger Kollmeier wins the 2012 German Future Prize (Deutscher Zukunftspreis) At a gala event his evening, broadcast by ZDF, Federal President Joachim Gauck presented the award to Professor Kollmeier, Prof. Dr. Volker Hohmann (both from the University of Oldenburg, "Hearing4all" Cluster of Excellence) and Dr. Torsten Niederdränk (Siemens AG).

The President awards the German Future Prize each year for outstanding technological, engineering or scientific innovations. It comes with 250,000 euros in prize money. Prof. Kollmeier and his team succeeded in tranferring the key benefits of binaural hearing to hearing aid technology – thereby significantly improving the technology of hearing aids. This development led to a rethinking in the world of hearing aids.

"Taking the lead and pro-actively contributing to the improvement of peoples' quality of life: Professor Kollmeier and his team have achieved a unique and outstanding accomplishment. The University of Oldenburg, where Prof. Kollmeier and Prof. Hohmann have been teaching and researching for years, is pleased about this huge success," stated University President Prof. Dr. Babette Simon.

"The German Future Prize is a fantastic recognition of our work. We care deeply about developing products and innovations which benefit the hearing impaired," Prof. Kollmeier stated in his acceptance speech. The scientist is spokesperson for the "Hearing4all" Cluster of Excellence, heads up the HörTech Competence Centre, the Fraunhofer Project Group for Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology, and is one of the leading minds at the "Auditory Valley" research and development network.

"Science and industry worked hand in hand to transfer binaural hearing to the hearing aid technology," explains Dr. Torsten Niederdränk of Siemens AG, which marketed the first devices with this technology based on underlying patents registered in 2004. The fact that the invention of "binaural hearing aids" is included in nearly all modern devices can be attributed primarily to the good cooperation between science and industry at Auditory Valley.

"We are driven by the fact that our invention helps so many people today," comments Prof. Dr. Volker Hohmann of the University of Oldenburg, describing the motivation behind their innovation. Hearing impairment is widespread and in the European Union approximately 56 million adults aged 18 to 80 suffer from impaired hearing requiring treatment. That means one in six adults is affected, half of them of working age.