15 October 2004

The hearing impaired and journalists would benefit from a smart microphone system that can extract specific sounds from noisy environments such as parties and board rooms.

The system was among 11 inventions rewarded at UQ’s Trailblazer 2004, last night [Thursday, October 14].

Trailblazer is an annual innovation competition run by UQ’s main commercialisation arm, UniQuest, to help staff and students lift their entrepreneurial ideas or smart research off the ground.

The Smart Microphone was one of four projects that each won $7500.

The system uses special mathematical formula that extracts specific sounds using conventional microphones, which do not have to be placed directly near the sound source.

Its creators are UQ PhD student Wai Yie Leong and senior lecturer Dr John Homer from UQ’s School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

The pair said the project had a range of applications from people with hearing problems to journalists recording better quality interviews.

“This system can actually extract overlapping speech signals, to give you separate, clearly audible speech signals,” Dr Homer said.

Dr Harendra Parekh also won a $7500 prize for developing a new way to deliver DNA for the treatment of eye disease.

Dr Jon Whitehead won for inhibiting an enzyme involved in the process of increasing fat tissue mass.

Dr Marcus Watson and Professor Penelope Sanderson have created a Bispectral index (BIS) auditory display, which is an audiovisual monitor for clinicans to better monitor depth of anaesthesia.

- Student project winners [$2000 each]:
Mr Thorsten Kampmann has developed a compound which could be an antiviral drug against the dengue virus.

Ms Louise Earnshaw has created a training program for young people at risk, after recognising they often demonstrate characteristics associated with entrepreneurship.

Mr Larry Weng has invented an advanced engine optimisation control system that acts like an experienced engineer tuning the engine while on the road, taking care of ignition time and air and fuel ratios.

- Highly commended staff winners [$1000 each]:
Dr Michael J Monteiro is finding better ways to make complex polymer architectures that could revolutionise drug delivery and superconductors.

Dr Vaughan Clarkson has created an algorithm to improve signal timing recovery which improves the efficiency of mobile, high-speed communications.

- Highly commended student winners [$1000 each]:
Ms Lesley Roberts has used reasoning and mathematical structures in language to aid legal professionals and policy makers in identifying compliance conditions and simplifying contract clauses.

Ms Dora Lui has a method to produce a concentrated liquid soy product which will allow food manufacturers to produce more appealing soy products.

Media: contact Julia Renaud at UniQuest on (phone: 07 3365 4037, email: j.renaud@uniquest.com.au) or Miguel Holland at UQ Communications on (phone: 3365 2619, email: m.holland@uq.edu.au)
Smart microphone: contact Dr Homer on (phone: 3365 4139, email: homerj@itee.uq.edu.au)