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New honorary professor at ASE

Søren Bech, Head of Research at Bang & Olufsen, has been appointed honorary professor at the Aarhus School of Engineering (ASE), Aarhus Faculty of Science and Technology, Aarhus University, as of 1 January 2011.

2011.01.25 | Christina Troelsen

Søren Bech, Head of Research and Senior Technology Specialist at Bang & Olufsen, has been appointed honorary professor at the Aarhus School of Engineering (ASE).

His research contributed significantly to the development of the acoustic properties of Bang & Olufsen’s BeoLab 5 loudspeakers.

Søren Bech is Head of Research and Senior Technology Specialist with responsibility for Bang & Olufsen’s activities in the area of human perception of sound, images and user interaction. He has an MSc (1982) and a PhD (1987) from Acoustic Technology, Department of Electrical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark (DTU). His main research area while working at DTU (1982–92) was psychoacoustics and especially human perception of reproduced sound in small spaces. He has managed several international collaborative research projects in this area, and the main project named Archimedes contributed to the basic understanding of the perceptual aspects of the interaction between loudspeakers and rooms. The results were later used to define some of the basic acoustic characteristics of Bang & Olufsen’s BeoLab 5 loudspeaker.

Since 1992, when he accepted a position as Technology Specialist in Perception at Bang & Olufsen, his main research interest has been to develop experimental paradigms that can be used to establish objective data for human perception of sound, images and user-product interaction. One of the first efforts was a joint research project including a collaborative effort with Philips Research Laboratories and the Institute of Perception Research, Eindhoven, aimed at developing an experimental paradigm for quantification of image quality of displays. This project developed the RaPID Perceptual Image Description Method, which is now considered one of the standard methods for quantification of perceived image quality of displays. The method was developed further for audio quality and is now one of the standard paradigms for quantification of perceived sound quality.

Some of the basic ideas for the RaPID method came from sensory analysis of food quality and strong collaborative links were established with researchers in that area. This led to an interest in the statistical analysis of data from sensory experiments, and a number of research projects have been and are still being conducted in this area, together with researchers from Norway (NoFima) and Denmark (IMM at DTU).

In recent years, his research effort has also been concentrated on establishing experimental procedures aimed at quantification of the user experience while interacting with technology. The latest project was a collaborative effort with NASA trying to quantify the relative importance of the auditory, visual and haptic sensory channels for the overall user impression while operating simple mechanical switches.

Søren Bech is also very interested in collaboration between academia and industry, and he works actively to increase such work. He has been a member of several projects and steering committees aimed at increasing this collaboration. Active projects include the Career Campus in Ringkøbing-Skjern, the Danish Sound Technology Network and the Conceptual Design and Development of Innovative Products (CD-DIP) summer school, which is a collaborative effort between the Engineering College of Aarhus, Bang & Olufsen a/s and six European Universities. The summer school recently received DKK 1.1 million (approximately EUR 147,000) in support from the Oticon Foundation.

Søren Bech’s appointment as honorary professor will strengthen the collaboration between the Aarhus School of Engineering and the industry, as well as increasing research and teaching efforts in the area of interaction between humans and technology.

Søren Bech is (co-)author of the book Perceptual Audio Evaluation. Theory, Method and Application (Wiley) and more than 110 scientific publications in such diverse fields as human perception of sound, image quality and user interaction. He has been supervisor for numerous MSc and PhD students. He also holds honorary professorships at McGill University, Montreal, Canada and the University of Surrey, UK.

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