Smart Hearing Aids from Siemens at CES

Siemens Hearing Test IconAs people get older, one of the more common complaints is of hearing loss. Many of those getting older now have grown up with technology and expect more than brown lumps of plastic which simply won’t do in an Apple-designed world. Today’s hearing aids are small, discreet and smart. Todd hears about the latest products from Thomas Powers of Siemens Hearing Instruments.

Siemens’ latest assistive hearing device is the Binex, which uses signal processing to help people in traditionally difficult listening environments, especially those where there’s a high level of background noise, such as restaurants or trade shows. The aid intelligently reacts to the noise, filtering out the unwanted sound while keeping nearby voices clear.

Worn around the neck, the easyTek streams audio from a Bluetooth-connected device directly into the hearing aid so it’s great for listening to music from a smartphone or tablet. The easyTek can be controlled by the easyTek app for Android and iOS smartphones to discreetly adjust programmes and volume, listen at a preferred level without disturbing others or direct the microphone towards the next person at a restaurant.

Available now, the smart hearing aids cost around $1500-$2000 which includes assessment and fitting.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Able Planet’s “health improving” headphones

Able PlanetAblePlanet is an audio company that makes a lot of hearing hardware, aids, microphones and more. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company showed off personal sound amplifiers —  which is not, strictly speaking, a hearing aid, but more of a boost to sound that will help in environments where listing can be an issue.

However, the new headphone line was the most interesting thing — the company claims that its headphones allow the customer to listen at a lower decibel rate than standard versions, meaning that the user is saving their hearing, or “improving health”.

You will need to watch the video below to really understand how AblePlanet is making all this happen, but it is really fascinating technology.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology

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Hearing Loss Help From ClearSounds

ClearSounds LogoSurprisingly, one in five Americans over the age of 12 has hearing loss severe enough to affect communication and in over a third of the cases, the loss is from noise exposure, not age. ClearSounds produces a range of stylish products that help people overcome their hearing loss and communicate again. Andy and Courtney talk to company president, Michele Alman of ClearSounds.

Suffering from a hearing loss is less about the physical impairment and more about the isolation and withdrawal that occurs when it becomes difficult to hear what’s going on. The problem doesn’t only affect the afflicted; friends and family stop calling and phoning because it’s simply too hard to have a conversation. In turn, the lack of contact leads people into depression.

ClearSounds have a range of products aimed at remedying everyday situations – people with hearing loss want to use cool tech too. The ClearSounds i700 iCreations Phone is combination landline and iPhone dock. The enhanced handset combines a DECT cordless phone with a Bluetooth receiver so only one handset is needed to take both landline and mobile phone calls.

For watching TV, the ClearBlue Bluetooth TV/Audio Listening System is a Bluetooth transmitter and headphones receiver. Rather than turning the TV volume up until it rocks the house, the headphones let the individual set the volume just right for them.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Etymotic BlastPLG™ Earplugs

My maternal Grandmother worked in a paper factory for 15 years before she retired. This was in the late fifties and early sixties before the idea of workers wearing protective gear including earplugs existed. Her hearing was damaged due to the noise and by the time she passed away almost 18 years later she was nearly totally deaf. So hearing protection devices is something I care about a lot. For her wearing earplugs at work wasn’t an option, but today they are.  Still many times those who need them most don’t wear them. One such group are soldiers in the field, who should wear earplugs to protect their hearing from the sound of gunfire and explosions. However they often refuse because they also need to hear what is going on around them. This is also true of musicians and construction workers who often work in noise environments

Etymotic the company that pioneered in ear headphones in 1983, is attempting to solve this problem with the EB-series of electronic BlastPLG™ Earplugs which won a CES 2011 inovation award in the Health and Wellness Category There are two models of BlastPLG Earplugs, one the EB15 is for some one who is around constant loud noise such as heavy equipment or vehicles. The EB15 circuitry adapts to the environment to become a 15-dB earplug when the environmental noise could cause hearing damage. It then returns to natural hearing when the noise level is back to normal. The EB1 is for someone who maybe faced with a sudden loud noise such as a hunter, but otherwise is in a normal hearing environment. The EB15 has a MSRP of $499 a pair and the EB1 have a MSRP of $449 a pair. The idea behind both these models is to allow the user to hear normal sounds around them while protecting them from noise that may damage their hearing. Hopefully someone will use these earplugs and save their hearing, unfortunately hearing loss often happens over a long period of time and is often not noticed until it is almost too late.