Active hearing mechanisms inspire adaptive amplification in an acoustic sensor system

Guerreiro, José and Reid, Andrew and Jackson, Joseph C. and Windmill, James F.C. (2018) Active hearing mechanisms inspire adaptive amplification in an acoustic sensor system. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, 12 (3). pp. 655-664. ISSN 1932-4545 (

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Over many millions of years of evolution, nature has developed some of the most adaptable sensors and sensory systems possible, capable of sensing, conditioning and processing signals in a very power- and size-effective manner. By looking into biological sensors and systems as a source of inspiration, this paper presents the study of a bio-inspired concept of signal processing at the sensor level. By exploiting a feedback control mechanism between a front-end acoustic receiver and back-end neuronal based computation, a nonlinear amplification with hysteretic behavior is created. Moreover, the transient response of the front-end acoustic receiver can also be controlled and enhanced. A theoretical model is proposed and the concept is prototyped experimentally through an embedded system setup that can provide dynamic adaptations of a sensory system comprising a MEMS microphone placed in a closed-loop feedback system. It faithfully mimics the mosquito’s active hearing response as a function of the input sound intensity. This is an adaptive acoustic sensor system concept that can be exploit by sensor and system designers within acoustics and ultrasonic engineering fields.


Guerreiro, José ORCID logoORCID:, Reid, Andrew ORCID logoORCID:, Jackson, Joseph C. and Windmill, James F.C. ORCID logoORCID:;