The rapidly developing world of bionic hearing gadgets

Research

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The MIT Technology Review recently looked over some of the innovations that are coming out of the wearable technology sector, specifically wireless earbuds. Wearable technology startups like Doppler Labs, Nuheara, and Soundhawk are working on new innovative earbuds that will be able to tune out or enhance certain sounds, raise bass, treble, and midrange when listening to music or other sounds, and amplify someone’s voice. They believe the wearable technology market is now ready to take the next step from wristbands and glasses to ear-worn devices.

The companies currently offer or are developing devices that are aimed at customizing real-time environmental sounds. Their main products are wireless earbuds connected to a smartphone app for ease of use. Examples of what the devices can do include tuning out the crowd at a concert, reducing the volume of a crying infant, or blocking out the hum of airplane engines when flying. Another feature of the earbuds, specifically Nuheara’s product, is to connect with digital audio like music and phone calls. Soundhawk’s product aims to boost hearing ability in challenging listening situations and can wirelessly stream audio from one’s phone or even TV.

The devices are currently relatively expensive and are therefore targeted mainly at audiophiles. The other major challenges are the common issues people encounter with wireless technology like sound becoming choppy, even at a short distance. Although the aim of these devices is to augment and customize sound for people with normal hearing, the advances they propose may be adapted to new generation hearing aids.

Source: MIT Technology Review

C.S.