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Waves MaxxAudio Sound Enhancement Comes to Medical Research with the First MRI Active Noise-Canceling Headphones

— Optoacoustics’ optical fiber-based headphones now restore and enhance the full sound spectrum for MRI environments —

The Consumer Electronics Division of Waves, the industry leader in professional audio digital signal processing and recipient of a Technical GRAMMY® award, is proud to see its MaxxAudio technologies employed in Optoacoustics’ OptoACTIVE™ headphones for advanced MRI medical environments.

OptoACTIVE is the world’s first real-time active noise-canceling headphone system for MRI, capable of reducing 95% of the EPI gradient noise routinely produced by magnetic resonance imaging equipment. Wearing OptoACTIVE headphones eliminates the most disturbing MR noise familiar to doctors, technicians and patients, dramatically changing and broadening research that can be performed using 3T and 7T MRI.

Working with Waves Audio, Optoacoustics has supplemented the OptoACTIVE’s noise reduction capabilities with embedded MaxxAudio algorithms to achieve powerful sound enhancement.

“Together with Optoacoustics, Waves MaxxAudio brings pro audio enhancement to a whole new audience of advanced medical researchers,” said Optoacoustics CEO Dr. Yuvi Kahana. “After achieving 60 dB active attenuation of the main EPI noise in MRI, we realized that MaxxAudio’s amazing psycho-acoustic signal processing brings a new level of sound quality to OptoACTIVE.”

“Waves is delighted to work in collaboration with an industry leader like Optoacoustics,” said Tomer Elbaz, General Manager of Waves Consumer Electronics Division. “The incorporation of MaxxAudio in such a critical and demanding aspect of the medical field is a testament to the commitment, high quality and uncompromising standards Waves brings to our partnerships.”

The benefits of utilizing Waves MaxxAudio in OptoACTIVE headphones are numerous. Optoacoustics engineers use the proprietary MaxxAudio toolset to restore a full range of rich, natural speech and music sounds, despite the harsh noise of MRI environments. Particularly in fields like advanced functional MRI brain research, MaxxAudio enables never-before-experienced sound quality, expanding the possibilities for new levels of research and real-time monitoring, and providing the doctors and brain researchers with more precise feedback.

One brain researcher who benefits dramatically from OptoACTIVE high quality audio is Oren Levin, an MR imaging technician at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel. “We have numerous projects using audio stimuli as a crucial part of research,” Levin explained. “For example, we have a large project examining emotions while viewing movie scenes, and their effect on our brains. The sound quality of the OptoACTIVE system gives us the ability to make the patient’s surroundings very similar to the cinematic experience.”

Levin added: “It’s as good as any professional stereo headphones, which couldn’t be used here before. We haven’t measured it, but I can tell you that the OptoACTIVE audio quality is the same.”

“Partnering with Waves enables our company to offer high-end, recording-studio-quality products to a sector that has been severely restricted by the most complex noise problems known, like extremely high SPL with difficult harmonics at high frequencies,” Dr. Kahana added. “OptoACTIVE headphones attenuate the most disturbing noise in the MR environment, and now Waves improves the whole spectrum with its fantastic high-end sound solution.”

OptoACTIVE headphones use Optoacoustics’ highly successful fiber optic sensor technology, which is ideal for use in MRI and other environments where conventional electronics devices are not suitable. The EPI sequences created by magnet rotations in MRI often exceed 120 dB in a 3T scanner (roughly the same noise level as a jet engine at takeoff). Even more challenging for engineers seeking a robust solution for MRI noise are the noise transients and harmonics that are generated at up to several KHz during various MR duty cycles, and which exhibit endless patterns of variation. To remedy this, Optoacoustics implements a highly-selective digital algorithm which actively attenuates EPI gradient noise. This proprietary real-time method drives the same noise created by the MR machine out of phase. Superimposing both real and out-of-phase sounds achieves the desired cancellation.

Optoacoustics also plans to introduce Waves MaxxAudio in additional fiber optic sensor-based systems, like its industry gold-standard FOMRI-III™ noise-cancelling microphones for functional MRI, and the forthcoming wireless IR version of its pioneering IMROC™ communications system for interventional MRI.

For more information, please visit www.maxx.com and www.optoacoustics.com.

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