Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Mechanical, Automotive, and Materials Engineering

Keywords

Pure sciences, Applied sciences, In-vehicle speech communication, Speech intelligibility, Hearing impairment, Listening environments

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

The effectiveness of in-vehicle speech communication can be a good indicator of the perception of the overall vehicle quality and customer satisfaction. Currently available speech intelligibility metrics do not account in their procedures for essential parameters needed for a complete and accurate evaluation of in-vehicle speech intelligibility. These include the directivity and the distance of the talker with respect to the listener, binaural listening, hearing profile of the listener, vocal effort, and multisensory hearing. In the first part of this research the effectiveness of in-vehicle application of these metrics is investigated in a series of studies to reveal their shortcomings, including a wide range of scores resulting from each of the metrics for a given measurement configuration and vehicle operating condition. In addition, the nature of a possible correlation between the scores obtained from each metric is unknown. The metrics and the subjective perception of speech intelligibility using, for example, the same speech material have not been compared in literature. As a result, in the second part of this research, an alternative method for speech intelligibility evaluation is proposed for use in the automotive industry by utilizing a virtual reality driving environment for ultimately setting targets, including the associated statistical variability, for future in-vehicle speech intelligibility evaluation. The Speech Intelligibility Index (SII) was evaluated at the sentence Speech Receptions Threshold (sSRT) for various listening situations and hearing profiles using acoustic perception jury testing and a variety of talker and listener configurations and background noise. In addition, the effect of individual sources and transfer paths of sound in an operating vehicle to the vehicle interior sound, specifically their effect on speech intelligibility was quantified, in the framework of the newly developed speech intelligibility evaluation method. Lastly, as an example of the significance of speech intelligibility evaluation in the context of an applicable listening environment, as indicated in this research, it was found that the jury test participants required on average an approximate 3 dB increase in sound pressure level of speech material while driving and listening compared to when just listening, for an equivalent speech intelligibility performance and the same listening task.

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