Hugh McDermott

BAppSc (Hons) (Electronics), PhD

Chief Technology Officer

P: +61 3 9667 7526
F: +61 3 9667 7518

Professor Hugh McDermott holds honorary appointments as a Professorial Fellow of The University of Melbourne in the Departments of Medical Bionics and Audiology and Speech Pathology.

In 2006 Hugh was appointed to the newly created Chair of Auditory Communication and Signal Processing at the University of Melbourne as full professor. He held that position until 2010 when he joined the Bionics Institute. He is an elected Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS). He has over 30 years of experience in signal processing, electronic design, and perceptual research.

Hugh has authored more than 120 journal articles, 7 book chapters, and over 100 additional publications, and he has delivered more than 100 invited presentations. In recognition of “his leadership that has fostered scientific advances and significant developments in the diagnosis and treatment of communication disorders,” he became the first winner of the Callier Prize in Communication Disorders, awarded by the University of Texas, Dallas in 2009. Hugh is a named inventor on 23 patent families, and he has a further 3 patent applications currently being processed.

Several of his inventions have been translated into successful commercial products, including:

  • Development of the Speak/ACE sound-processing scheme for cochlear implants. This scheme continues to be the most commonly used sound-processing algorithm in cochlear implants manufactured by the Australian company Cochlear Ltd. Over 300,000 cochlear implant recipients worldwide are now users of the Speak/ACE scheme.

  • Development of the frequency-compression scheme for acoustic hearing aids known as SoundRecover, which improves the perception of high-frequency sounds and thereby increases speech intelligibility. The success of SoundRecover has led to its introduction in almost all hearing instruments manufactured by Phonak AG, a globally leading company based in Switzerland. Phonak is represented in over 100 countries and sells approximately 1 million hearing aids per year.

  • Development of circuits for neurostimulators, including cochlear implants. As a PhD student, Hugh completed all aspects of the design and layout of a custom receiver-stimulator chip that implemented several unique technical features. Some of these innovations have been incorporated into the implant systems manufactured commercially by Cochlear Ltd today.

Research fields of interest

  • Development of medical bionics devices
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Cochlear implants
  • Hearing aids
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Perception and psychophysics

Selected Recent Publications


  1. Shivdasani MN, et al.: “Identification of characters and localisation of images using direct multiple electrode stimulation with a suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis.” Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science 2017. (in review)

  2. Brochier T, McDermott HJ, McKay CM: “The effect of presentation level and stimulation rate on speech perception and modulation detection for cochlear implant users.” J Acoust Soc Am, 2017. (in review)

  3. Marozeau J, McDermott HJ, Swanson BA, McKay CM: “Vowel recognition by cochlear implant recipients using simultaneous all-polar and sequential monopolar stimulation.” JASA Express Letters, 2016. (in review)

  4. Segal MA, Hersbach AA, Plant KL, Grayden DB, Fallon JB, McDermott HJ: "Investigating the effect of reverberation on cochlear implant speech intelligibility and benefits of multi-microphone noise reduction algorithms." Ear and Hearing, 2016. (in review)

  5. Yohanandan SAC, Jones M, Peppard R, Tan JL, McDermott HJ, Perera T: “Evaluating machine learning algorithms estimating tremor severity ratings on the Bain-Findley scale.” Measurement Science and Technology, 27: 125702, 2016.

  6. Perera T, Yohanandan SAC, Thevathasan W, Jones M, Peppard R, Evans AH, Tan JL, McKay CM, McDermott HJ: “Clinical validation of a precision electromagnetic tremor measurement system in participants receiving deep brain stimulation for essential tremor.” Physiological Measurement, 37(9) 1516, 2016. doi: 10.1088/0957-0233/27/12/125702

  7. Sinclair NC, Shivdasani MN, Perera T, Gillespie LN, McDermott HJ, Ayton LN, Blamey PJ: “The appearance of phosphenes elicited using a suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis.” Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 57: 4948-4961, 2016. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-18991

  8. Barnes N, Scott A, Lieby P, Petoe M, McCarthy C, Stacey A, Ayton L, Sinclair N, Shivdasani M, Lovell N, McDermott H, Walker J: “Vision function testing for a suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis: effects of image filtering.” J Neural Eng, 13 036013, 2016.

  9. Plant KL, van Hoesel RJ, McDermott HJ, Dawson PW, Cowan RS: “Influence of contralateral acoustic hearing on adult bimodal outcomes after cochlear implantation.” Int J Audiology, 55(8): 472-482, 2016. doi: 10.1080/14992027.2016.1178857

  10. Shepherd RK, Fallon JB, McDermott HJ: “Medical Bionics.” Transactions of the Royal Society of Victoria, Oct 2015.

  11. McDermott HJ, McKay CM: “Comment on: Short pulse width widens the therapeutic window of subthalamic neurostimulation.” Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, 2(10): 984-985, 2015. doi: 10.1002/acn3.253.

  12. Plant KL, McDermott HJ, van Hoesel RJ, Dawson PW, Cowan RS: “Factors predicting post-operative unilateral and bilateral speech recognition in adult cochlear implant recipients with acoustic hearing.”  Ear and Hearing 37(2): 153-163, 2016.





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