Facebook has piqued the interest of the hearing healthcare community with a recent job posting, which states the company is seeking a research audiologist for Facebook’s Redmond, Washington campus.
According to details from the job listing:
“This role is focused on evaluating advanced algorithms, signal processing techniques, and be key in fitting and programming these approaches to a large pool of hearing impaired listeners. The role also includes assisting the build-up of such pool of hearing impaired listeners for iterative evaluation of new signal processing concepts, as well as fitting state-of-the-art hearing aids. Further, to contribute to the team for solving difficult problems at the intersection of hearing, acoustics, mechanical design, auditory perception, spatial audio and signal processing. This full-time position is well suited for someone with a strong interest in advancing the state-of-the art in hearing correction and enhancement technologies using AR/VR. The successful candidate will have a PhD in Audiology, Hearing Science, or related field, with strong skills and experience in diagnostic audiology, hearing aid technology (e.g., dynamic range compression, speech enhancement, and noise suppression), fitting strategies, and approaches. The role requires expertise in designing and conducting clinical trials, evaluating outcomes in people with hearing loss, and publishing results.”
The responsibilities listed for the position are similar to those that you might expect at any Big 5 hearing aid manufacturer, some of which include:
Design and facilitate studies to evaluate outcomes with new technology and fitting/programming approaches
Contribute to building up a large pool of hearing-impaired test subjects and fit them with state-of-the art and future technologies
Secure that state-of-the-art diagnostic methods are implemented
Mentor MS/PhD interns and collaborate with external academic groups to advance our research goals
Publish research results in top-tier journals and present at leading international conferences
Understand and stay up-to-date on the latest research literature
Serve as a resident expert working closely with other scientists in auditory perception, hearing loss, and programming/fitting approaches and contribute to the broaden the knowledge of hearing sciences in the team
Using AR/VR for “Hearing Correction”?
While it’s unclear what Facebook has in mind when it talks about using AR/VR for “hearing correction”, the company has had a keen interest in AR/VR for some time. In 2014, the company acquired virtual reality (VR) company Oculus, for $2 Billion dollars.
Increasingly, augmented reality (AR) is receiving greater attention by major tech firms–both visual and audio. In 2018, for example, Bose announced “the world’s first audio augmented reality platform” at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference: Bose AR. Other well know tech companies have been rumored to have similar products in development–including Facebook.
In a September 2019 interview with cnet, Mark Zuckerberg explained the path from VR to AR and how he sees the future of the technologies developing. Whether the open audiologist position at Facebook is an indicator that the company is planning to get directly involved in the hearing aid industry is still very unclear.
**HHTM has reached out to Facebook media relations for comment, however, the company has not yet responded to our inquiry.