Professor Hugh McDermott

Professor Hugh McDermott

Chief Technology Officer BAppSc (Hons) (Electronics), PhD

Professor Hugh McDermott

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 he joined the Bionics Institute as Deputy Director in 2010. Hugh was appointed Chief Technology Officer in December 2017.

In recognition of his world-renowned research in signal processing, electronic design, and perception, Professor Hugh McDermott 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). In 2009, Professor Hugh McDermott was the first recipient of the Callier Prize in Communication Disorders, an award from the University of Texas, USA, for leadership “that has fostered scientific advances and significant developments in the diagnosis and treatment of communication disorders”.

Professor Hugh McDermott is a named inventor on 23 patent families, and has a further four patent applications currently being processed. Several of his inventions have been successfully implemented in commercial products available worldwide, including the development of:

  • The Speak/ACE sound-processing scheme for cochlear implants. These have been the highly successful basis of all processors manufactured and sold by the Australian company Cochlear Ltd for over 20 years. Cochlear Ltd continues to dominate the world market for cochlear implants.
  • The frequency-compression scheme for acoustic hearing aids known as SoundRecover, which improves the perception of high-frequency sounds and thereby increases speech intelligibility. SoundRecover has been licensed to the world’s largest manufacturer of hearing aids, Phonak AG, a subsidiary of Sonova, based in Switzerland. Phonak sells approximately 1 million hearing aids in over 100 countries per year.
  • 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
  • Cochlear implants
  • Hearing aids
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Perception and psychophysics

Contribution to field of research

Hugh has contributed to the design, development, and evaluation of neurostimulation devices, particularly cochlear implants and signal processing systems, for over 35 years. The outcomes of this research have frequently resulted in the practical improvement of products manufactured by the world’s foremost companies in this field (e.g., Cochlear Ltd, Australia, and Sonova AG / Phonak, Switzerland). Millions of devices have been sold globally containing innovations that Hugh has developed. Over the past 7 years, Hugh’s work has been extended into the fields of prosthetic vision and brain stimulation. The latter research aims to treat conditions such as movement disorders and certain neuropsychiatric conditions by means of electric stimulation of selected brain targets. Hugh has authored or co-authored 110 journal articles (not including conference papers), seven book chapters, and about 200 additional publications. On more than 100 occasions Hugh has been invited to present lectures to international conferences and corporate workshops. He also regularly presents public seminars and participates in workshops with community groups.

Selected Publications of Professor Hugh McDermott

  1. Brochier, T., C. McKay, and H. McDermott. 2018. Rate modulation detection thresholds for cochlear implant users. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 143(2): 1214 – 1222. doi: 10.1121/1.5025048.
  2. Brochier, T., H. J. McDermott, and C. M. McKay. 2017. The effect of presentation level and stimulation rate on speech perception and modulation detection for cochlear implant users. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 141(6): 4097.
  3. Yohanandan, S. A., M. Jones, R. Peppard, J. Tan, H.J. McDermott, and T. Perera. 2016. Evaluating machine learning algorithms estimating tremor severity ratings on the Bain-Findley scale. Measurement Science and Technology. 27(12): 125702.
  4. Sinclair, N. C., M. N. Shivdasani, T. Perera, L. N. Gillespie, H. J. McDermott, L. N. Ayton, and P. J. Blamey. 2016. The Appearance of Phosphenes Elicited Using a Suprachoroidal Retinal Prosthesis. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 57(11): 4948-61. Full Text
  5. Plant, K., R. van Hoesel, H. McDermott, P. Dawson, and R. Cowan. 2016. Influence of contralateral acoustic hearing on adult bimodal outcomes after cochlear implantation. International Journal of Audiology. 55(8): 472-82.
  6. Plant, K., H. McDermott, R. van Hoesel, P. Dawson, and R. Cowan. 2016. Factors Predicting Postoperative Unilateral and Bilateral Speech Recognition in Adult Cochlear Implant Recipients with Acoustic Hearing. Ear and Hearing. 37(2): 153-63.
  7. Perera, T., S. A. Yohanandan, W. Thevathasan, M. Jones, R. Peppard, A. H. Evans, J. L. Tan, C. M. McKay, and H. J. McDermott. 2016. Clinical validation of a precision electromagnetic tremor measurement system in participants receiving deep brain stimulation for essential tremor. Physiological Measurement. 37(9): 1516-27. Full Text
  8. Perera, T., S. A. Yohanandan, and H. J. McDermott. 2016. A simple and inexpensive test-rig for evaluating the performance of motion sensors used in movement disorders research. Medical & biological engineering & computing. 54(2-3): 333-9.
  9. Barnes, N., A. F. Scott, P. Lieby, M. A. Petoe, C. McCarthy, A. Stacey, L. N. Ayton, N. C. Sinclair, M. N. Shivdasani, N. H. Lovell, H. J. McDermott, and J. G. Walker. 2016. Vision function testing for a suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis: effects of image filtering. Journal of Neural Engineering. 13(3): 036013.
  10. Wouters, J., H.J. McDermott, and T. Francart. 2015. Sound coding in cochlear implants: From electric pulses to hearing. IEEE Signal Processing Magazine. 32(2): 67-80.

See more publications by Hugh McDermott in PubMed

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