UKAN+ webinar – Speech communication, intelligibility and systems measurement in the Covid era – face masks are only the tip of the iceberg

17 January 2024

3:00 pm

Online, Zoom webinar


Covid brought about a paradigm shift in the way we worked and communicated. The acoustic effect of facemasks has been previously reported but this was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the effect on speech communication globally. Remote meetings, webinars and lectures via Zoom and Teams became the norm but were often accompanied by poor intelligibility or distorted speech that required considerably greater cognitive effort to decipher and so these meetings were often noted to be fatiguing. In some situations face masks were also worn when communicating via radio links, making Public Address announcements or even during Zoom and Teams meetings, further degrading potentially poor intelligibility even further. The talk will discuss some of Peter’s research into speech communication during Covid together, particularly with respect to the hard of hearing and the disproportionate impact that this had. He will also describe how he had to develop new methods of acoustic testing that enabled live acoustic measurements to be made remotely on sound systems in several buildings that he could not visit. He has since extended the technique so that assessments of the audio and acoustic performance are now regularly made on sound systems in the USA, Europe and the Middle East from his office here in the UK. During Covid, and immediately afterwards, Peter also worked on the development of transparent facemasks that enabled the Hard of Hearing to again be able to lip read and for others to see facial expressions and so improve non-verbal communication. He will also explain how a spin-off of his research led to the modification of the response of a wireless microphone communication system thereby enabling surgeons and operating theatre staff to communicate more efficiently and with greater intelligibility.

Peter Mapp PhD, MSc, FAES, FASA, FinstSCE

Dr Peter Mapp is principal of Peter Mapp Associates, an acoustic consultancy, specialising in the fields of room acoustics, electro-acoustics and sound system design. Peter holds degrees in applied physics and acoustics and has a special interest in speech intelligibility prediction and measurement. Whilst the majority of Peter’s work relates to electroacoustics consultancy he also manages to carry out considerable applied research relating to sound system performance and also into Assistive Listening Systems (ALS).  He is currently a member of both the British and the International Standards committees concerning sound systems and speech intelligibility and is chair of IEC 60268-16, the international STI standard for measuring speech intelligibility. Peter has been responsible for the design and commissioning of over 700 sound systems, varying from concert halls and theatres to churches, cathedrals and other religious buildings to arenas, stadiums, legislative buildings and transportation terminals. He has a particular interest in assistive listening systems and was a founding member of the BSI committee that produced the first standard for Audio Frequency Induction Loop Systems. (Hearing loops).

Peter is also a contributing author to several of international reference books including the Handbook for Sound Engineers, the Audio Handbook, Uncertainty in Acoustics and Sound Reinforcement for Audio Engineers. In 2003, Peter Mapp became the first UK recipient of the Institute of Acoustics Peter Barnett memorial award in recognition of his contributions to the fields or electroacoustics, education and speech intelligibility In 2012 he was awarded the prestigious IEC 1906 medal for his work on international standards and in 2014 the AES Bronze medal.  He has been a member of the UKAN Communications & Room Acoustics SIG since its inception.

Register in advance for this webinar: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_IkxHSlc7QC2J-7YzinLxaA After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.