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A Sensor Web of Hearing Aids

At the start of this month, a US firm, Oticon, started shipping a rather interesting concept, essentially hearing aids that plug into the local wireless network as you walk around. Whilst this company may be the first, it's a definite interest area for others.

The idea is so simple, its brilliant, and one of those that makes you wonder why no-one ever thought of it before. Essentially, the hearing aid itself, is equipped with bluetooth. Wi-fi could conceivably be used instead, or as well as. A network of sensor boxes, dedicated to the task of turning any audio input stream into a bluetooth signal, can then be deployed, all over the house, shops, stations, office blocks, anywhere. The audio stream could be anything from a TV or PA system's sound direct from source, to the output of microphones listening within an enclosed space - or even an open space.

The feed is transmitted straight, and continually to the hearing aid, binaurally. The aids themselves work out their relative position to the sound, and transmit at the user's preferred volume.

If this idea takes off, with a range of companies providing the hardware, it basically creates the ability for the hard of hearing to become enabled, to hear sounds at their own preferred level.

There is no data available at time of writing, as to whether or not any current bluetooth device is compatible with a cochlea implant. There is however, no technical reason why they could not be, same as there is no technical reason why the sound could not be filtered via the considerable computing power of something hearing aid sized, that does not have to use any of that volume for processing sound.

This would create the situation whereby those with artificially-compensated hearing could become those with artificially enhanced hearing, able to select with precision which areas or even frequencies of sound they desire to receive.

References

Oticon Introduces New Hearing Products

Staff Comments

 


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