Product Overview – SPEAR3.

SPEAR3 Product Overview

image_spear3_webThe SPEAR3 Research System is intended for research purposes only. Under no circumstances is SPEAR3 intended for, or available as, a patient therapeutic device or for issue to patients as a commercially-available speech processor for use with a commercial implant system.



Technical Support

Software Updates


SPEAR3 Speech Processor

SPEAR3 is a speech processor designed for cochlear implant and hearing aid research. Incorporating 2 channel audio I/O and twin implant drivers, SPEAR3 embodies many of the features required for bilateral implant or hearing aid research in a portable device. A cochlear implant and hearing aid output can also be combined to investigate electrical and acoustic stimulus in ipsilateral or contralateral ears. SPEAR3 can also be used in situations requiring multiple microphones such as for directional arrays and noise reduction research.

The SPEAR3’s key features are:

  • Full stereo operation: 2 microphone inputs & 2 acoustic outputs
  • Two independent cochlear implant drivers for electrical stimulation
  • Drives Cochlear’s CI22 and CI24 implants
  • Two independent hearing aid drivers for acoustic stimulation
  • Easily reconfigured for any combination of microphones, hearing aids, and cochlear implants.
  • Powerful 24-bit DSP for high speed and CD quality audio processing
  • Small size
  • Light weight, portable, battery driven (AA cell)
  • Easy to use

It is envisaged that SPEAR3 will be used to investigate:

  • Advanced speech processing schemes
  • Bilateral implant and hearing aid schemes
  • Multi-modal (Combionic) stimulus combining cochlear implant stimulation and residual hearing in one or both ears.
  • Multiple Microphone applications for noise reduction and improved directionality
  • Multi-channel electrical and acoustic psychophysics.

SPEAR3 has some limitations as compared with speech processors used in commercial cochlear implant systems:

  • Shorter battery life
  • No Implant Telemetry facilities
  • Limited availability, service support, and application. (Not intended as a long term replacement of commercial devices)
  • SPEAR3 hardware is supplied without warranties (other than statutory warranties). It is designed for use as a speech processing research tool and is not suitable for use as a therapeutic device for sale or issue to patients.

Headset Microphones, Transmitter coils and Hearing aid receivers

The standard HS-8 headset microphone and CI24 transmitter coil (manufactured by Cochlear) are suitable for use with the SPEAR3 processor. Processors can be configured to use either a single (unilateral) headset or dual (bilateral) headsets. For bilateral processors, special headset cables are provided (which have a miniature 4-pin connector at the processor end) to connect the headset to the SPEAR3 processor. SPEAR3 processors can be converted from unilateral to bilateral (or vice-versa) by CRC/HearWorks at any time. A special CI22 transmitter coil is also available for driving the Nucleus CI22 receiver/stimulator.

Hearing aid microphones and receivers can be connected to the acoustic inputs and outputs respectively of the SPEAR3 processor via the same SPEAR3 connectors used for Cochlear Implant headsets. The CRC/Hearworks does not provide a specific hearing aid headset for the SPEAR3 system, but can provide assistance in interfacing custom headsets or standard hearing aids to the SPEAR3 processor.

Programming System (SPS) Interface Box

The SPEAR3 Programming System (SPS) Interface is used to connect the SPEAR3 processor to a computer (MS-Windows PC) via its serial communication port. The package includes the SPS Interface box, a DC-power pack, a SPS interface-to-processor programming cable and a SPS-to-PC serial cable. SPEAR3 Windows applications such as Seed-Speak and Woomera use this interface to communicate with the SPEAR3 processor.

SPEAR3_product_brief (PDF).


Speech Processing System software: Seed-Speak

The Speech Processing System provides a means for programming the SPEAR3 processor for speech coding research with cochlear implants. The system comprises two components:

  1. CSPEAK (Configurable SPEAK) a core speech coding program for SPEAR3, and
  2. Seed-Speak, a GUI application that runs under MS-Windows, which configures/seeds parameters of CSPEAK, and programs the SPEAR3 processor.

The system supports unilateral and bilateral implant configurations and both the Nucleus CI22 and/or CI24 implants are supported. Many program and client parameters, such as rate of stimulation, analysis (update) rate, number of bands (channels), number of maxima, loudness growth mapping parameters, and subjective threshold and comfortable stimulation levels can be configured by the system.

CSPEAK, the core speech coding program is a Configurable version of the SPEAK strategy that can be configured to emulate the SPEAK, ACE or CIS strategies. New speech coding strategies that are developed for the SPEAR3 processor can be easily interfaced to Seed-Speak. For instance both the ADRO (Adaptive Dynamic Range Optimisation) and TESM (Transient Emphasis Spectral Maxima) strategies have been incorporated with the core program.

Seed-Speak is a Windows application program used to configure parameters of the core program, such as those described above, as well as to provide a mechanism for maintaining client (patient) maps and to load these maps into the SPEAR3 processor. Seed-Speak can also be used to configure the filter bank used by the core program. The filter bank can be matched to that used by the ACE or SPEAK (SPrint) speech coding strategies or designed to some other specification. In addition, Seed-Speak provides some psychophysics functions for measurement of subjective threshold and comfortable loudness levels, sweeping of electrodes, electrode-pitch estimation and loudness balancing.

Speech Processing System Software: Seed-Speak (PDF)

Software Development Tools

For researchers who wish to use the SPEAR3 System to develop their own applications (speech processing or psychophysics), software development tools are available under licence. The software development tools include:

  1. Woomera/ShaLo, a monitor/loader program used to communicate with the SPEAR3 processor via a PC;
  2. SPEAR3 Development Library, a library of DSP563xx source code which forms a framework for DSP application programs and enables configuration and access to peripherals in the SPEAR3 processor;
  3. SPS Interface DLL, a Windows DLL for the SPS interface that allows developers to write Windows applications that communicate with the SPEAR3 processor via the SPS interface. SPEAR3 hardware and programming documentation is also available.


Woomera is a GUI program used to communicate with the SPEAR3 processor via a PC (Note, the SPS serial interface is used to connect the processor to a PC’s serial communication port). Woomera, together with ShaLo (which is a resident monitor program in the SPEAR3 processor), provide a mechanism for down-loading programs to the processor; saving programs in the processors non-volatile Flash RAM; controlling program execution and examining and modifying memory contents.

Software Development Library

The SPEAR3 Development Library contains source code (Motorola DSP563xx assembly language) which enables programmers to configure and access all peripherals in the SPEAR3 processor. Routines are provided for initialising and accessing the CODEC (ADC and DAC), adjusting the audio input gain, configuring and programming the encoders (CI22 or CI24), and accessing the front panel controls (i.e., the LEDs, rotary knob, 4 position switch and external microphone jack input). The Motorola DSP563xx assembler tools are also provided as well as some Motorola DSP563xx application source code. Documentation for SPEAR3 hardware, the SPS interface box, and programming of the SPEAR3 processor will also be provided under licence. This will include data sheets for the components used in the SPEAR3 processor (e.g. DSP563xx, CODEC, Digital POT, etc) and Motorola DSP563xx application notes.

SPS DLL for Developmemt of SPEAR3 Windows Applications

The SPS DLL is a MS Windows (flat C) DLL (Dynamic-Link Library) which enables programmers to develop Windows applications that can communicate and control the SPEAR3 processor via the SPS interface. DLL functions are provided for assigning and configuring a Windows Serial Communication Port (Comm Port) to the SPS interface and for communicating with the SPEAR3 processor via its monitor/loader program (ShaLo). Specific functions are provided for: resetting the SPEAR processor; installing ShaLo, the monitor/loader program, in the SPEAR processor; sending messages to ShaLo; testing the connection and getting the status of the SPEAR/ShaLo; reading and writing to/from the SPEAR processor memory; downloading application programs (in the form of Motorola DSP56K lod files) to the SPEAR processor; starting and stopping execution of application programs; storing specified memory areas and/or DSP application programs in the non-volatile flash memory; and clearing the flash memory.

SPEAR3 Diagnostic Tools

Two software tools for diagnosis of the SPEAR3 System are available:

  1. SpearWorks is a diagnosis tool used to test the functionality of the hardware;
  2. RF Statistics is a used to test the functionality of the Speech Processing System software.


SpearWorks is used to test the functionality of the SPEAR3 speech processor, the SPS interface and the PC serial communication interface. It provides controls for testing the serial communication interface, the SPEAR3 flash RAM, the CODEC, the encoder/stimulators and the SPEAR3 front-panel controls.

RF Statistics

RF Statistics is used to test the functionality of the software via analysis of the stimulus signals produced by a running SPEAR3 application. RF Statistics captures (via Cochlear Limited’s PCI box and IF5 card) and display RF stimulus information encoded for the CI-22 and CI-24 receiver/stimulators. Captured stimulus information can be displayed graphically (electrodogram) or numerically in tables. Range checking of stimulus information is also performed with respect to map parameters and errors are highlighted in the graphical display (using color) and in the numerical tables. The map parameters encompass all parameters typically encountered in clinical maps and can be entered manually or read from an existing Seed-Speak map (future support may be provided for reading Cochlear maps). Captured stimulus information when displayed in electrodograms is also scaled with respect to map parameters such as Threshold and Comfortable levels per electrode. Statistical information such as minimum and maximum values, average and standard deviation are also provided.

Technical Support

If you are a licence holder, please contact HEARworks to request any of the technical support documentation detailed below.


SPEAR3 Speech Processor

    • SPEAR3 User manual

  • SPEAR3 Hardware Technical manual

SPEAR3 Programming System (SPS) Serial Interface

  • SPS Installation manual


Seed-Speak (Speech Processing System software)

  • Seed-Speak User manual
  • SPEAR3 Speech Processing System User’s Guide

SPS Interface DLL

  • SPS Interface DLL Programmers manual


  • Woomera User manual

SPEAR3 Software Development Library

    • Programmer’s Guide

RF Statistics

  • RF Statistics User manual

Software updates

If you are a licence holder, please contact HEARworks to request any of the software updates detailed below.

Speech Processing System Software (Seed-Speak)

  • Version 2.01
  • Version 2.02
  • Version 2.03
  • Version 2.04
  • Version 2.06

Software Development Tools

SPEAR3 Software Development Library

  • Version 1.03

SPS Interface DLL for SPEAR3 Windows Applications

  • Version 1.0.1
  • Version 1.0.2

Woomera (Windows GUI Monitor/Loader program)

  • Version 4.0.1
  • Version 5.0.0

ShaLo (SPEAR3 Monitor/Loader code)

  • Version 5
  • Version 6

Diagnostic Tools

RF Statistics (Stimulus Capture and Diagnostic tool)

  • Version 1.04
  • Version 1.05

Spear Works (SPEAR3 Hardware Diagnostic tool)

  • Version 2.0

SPEAR3 Research System Ordering Information

Download a SPEAR3 order form.

Please note, the SPEAR3 speech processing System has three components:

1) The Hardware: SPEAR3 and SPS Interface

The SPEAR3 portable research speech processor and the SPEAR3 Programming System (SPS) serial interface unit that is used to interface SPEAR3 to a MS-Windows based computer.

2) The Speech Processing Research Tools: Seed-Speak & CSpeak

The Core Speech Coding Program (CSpeak) and the SeedSpeak Speech Processing System software, a Windows GUI interface that provides a mechanism for implementation and manipulation of cochlear implant speech coding strategies such as SPEAK, ACE and CIS, as well as advanced strategies.

3) The Software Developers Tools

The Monitor/Loader program, software development library and SPS interface DLL, for independent development of applications for the SPEAR3 System.

Before you order a SPEAR, you should decide:

  • Do I need a unilateral or a bilateral SPEAR configuration?

Note that the order form offers a choice between a bilateral and a unilateral system. The bilateral processor uses two miniature 4-pin HS-8 headset connectors and special headset cables. The unilateral processor uses a single standard HS-8 headset connector available from Cochlear Limited. From the point of view of headset availability and maintenance, it is in your interest to select the unilateral configuration unless bilateral or dual microphone processing is explicitly required.

  • What do I want to use the SPEAR to do?

Please read the Seed Speak Product Brief (PDF) carefully. Consider what you want to achieve in your research protocol, and how much of this you can do within the parameters of SeedSpeak. If you want to develop speech coding software to implement a novel speech processing strategy using the SPEAR System, you will need different components of the SPEAR System than a researcher who is able to implement their speech processing strategy within the parameters of SeedSpeak.

  • What components of the SPEAR system should I order?

All researchers will need the SPEAR3 Speech Processor and the SPS serial interface unit. If you want to work with SeedSpeak and existing speech coding strategies already integrated with SeedSpeak, you will also need the Speech Processing Research Tools (CSpeak and SeedSpeak). However, if you want to develop speech coding software to implement a novel speech processing strategy for use with the SPEAR3 system, you will need the Software Developers tools. In both cases, you will need to sign a licence agreement regarding use of the SPEAR3 processor in the research project.

Use the series of questions below to help you make the decision:

  • Does your project require the development of new speech processing strategies or software tools

YES: please go to next question.

NO: you will need a SPEAR3 processor, an SPS interface unit, the Speech Processing Research Tools, and ancillary components (coils, cables etc) to meet your needs.

  • Do you wish to undertake this development independently (that is, write the software yourself using the Software Developers Tools?)

YES: you will need a SPEAR3 processor, an SPS interface unit, the Software Developers Tools, and ancillary components (coils, cables etc) to meet your needs.

NO: please go to the next question.

  • Do you need assistance to:
  1. develop software in accordance with your concepts and algorithms?
  2. develop software and algorithms in accordance with your concepts?
  3. develop software, algorithms and concepts to support your experimental protocol?

If you answered YES to any part of this question, you may need the services of a contract programmer. For suitable research projects where a collaboration is envisioned, CRC would be willing to negotiate a contract for CRC Programmer services.


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