ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
ECE News

Buzz Be Gone

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Conventional antenna

A cell phone mockup with conventional antenna.

The nation's 5.6 million hearing aid users sometimes get too much buzz from interference by nearby cellular phones. Some parts in the hearing aid act as unintended antennas and couple the energy from phones to the hearing devices. The coupled energy is demodulated in the phone's amplifier circuits, producing the irritating buzz hearing aid wearers know so well.

ECE graduate student Taeyoung Yang says the solution could be a new antenna. He proposes solving this problem with a UWB antenna that minimizes near-field radiation from the phone as well as interference to hearing aids, pacemakers, and other medical devices. Yang, with advisors William Davis and Warren Stutzman, designed an antenna and installed it on a cellular phone mockup. The low-Q (ratio of total non-radiating energy to average radiated power per radian) antenna has low non-radiating stored energy in the near field, reducing interference with hearing aids and potential power absorption by the human head, while not reducing far field performance.

UWB antenna

A cell phone mockup with proposed UWB antenna.

His project, entitled ‘Cellular Phone and Hearing Aid Interaction: An Antenna Solution,’ won a national honorable mention in the 2007 FEKO student competition for simulation techniques used to solve electromagnetic problems. He also received Virginia Tech's Torgersen Graduate Student Research Excellence Award for scientific originality and contribution.