Student engineers win IEEE competition with microphone array

Khalifa University team create microphone system for use in audio conferencing, surveillance

Tags: ConferenceInstitute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers IEEE (www.ieee.org)Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (www.ku.ac.ae)
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Student engineers win IEEE competition with microphone array The winning team from Khalifa University with their project advisors.
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By  Mark Sutton Published  May 21, 2013

A team of four students from Khalifa University has taken first place in the Senior Design Project Competition at the eighth Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Student Day in the UAE.

The students, who are all studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering, won with a multi-disciplinary project to create a microphone array that has potential uses in conferencing and audio surveillance.

The microphone array is able to focus on sound from a single directional source, while suppressing those from other angles, meaning that it can focus on a particular speaker in a meeting or record conversations in a specific location. The system uses ‘beamforming' a signal processing technique that captures soundwaves through the multiple microphones in the array, which are then processed using a series of complex numerical algorithms, to combine acoustic waves coming from a specific angle while those from other angles are suppressed.

The students, Mohammad Luai A. Hammadih, Abdulla AlShehhi, Mohammad Sami Zitouni and Saif Alkindi, say that the system can be used in meetings with many participants, as it would replace the individual microphone for each meeting participant by a single central device that can ‘listen' to each one individually; or in remote acoustic surveillance, to record conversations taking place in a specific location. As the system is fully electronic and has no movable or mechanical parts the acoustic surveillance is unobtrusive and unnoticeable by the target.

The project involved a combination of analog hardware design, digital hardware, computer programming, and mathematical analysis. Every project member worked on a specific part of the system, developing and testing each part individually, with all parts integrated to create the final prototype, which showed strong alignment between design simulations and the performance of the finished array.

"The students had the faith and belief to pursue an idea apparently simple but extremely difficult to assimilate even at graduate level, and to follow a tight working plan," said Dr Luis Weruaga, Associate Professor at Khalifa University, Sharjah Campus

"Their presence and aura on the day of the competition convinced the jury, audience, and even competitors," added Dr Nazar Ali, Associate Professor at Khalifa University, Sharjah Campus.

The 8th IEEE UAE Student Day 2013, which was held at the University of Sharjah, had around 70 projects and 251 participating students from 15 universities across the UAE.

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