A Really Smart Solution To The Hearing Aid: The Soundhawk
Please note: the developers of the Soundhawk, Mike Kisch and Mike Nuttall, will tell you that the Soundhawk is not a hearing aid. Well, it's not a traditional 'hearing aid.' But it is a new kind of hearing aid, one which perhaps other developers will emulate in the future. Soundhawk doesn't just help you hear; it helps you listen. Let me explain....
Traditional hearing aids, the ones that cost $2,000 and up, are designed to amplify sound. They contain little microphones, most of which, today, are inserted in the ear canal. They amplify the sounds around you, be they spoken words, music, a crowd of people, or an airplane flying overhead. A hearing aid amplifies them all without distinction as to what might be important to you. So, if I am talking to you on a busy city street, both my voice and the sound beyond my voice will be louder, and if you have the typical age-related presbycusis, you won't understand me much better than if you weren't wearing an aid at all.
But the Soundhawk operates differently. You can tell it what you want to hear and it will amplify those sounds in particular. That makes it smart... aside from the fact that you send it instructions from your smart phone. And style-wise, the Soundhawk is understated, even cool, and that makes it perfect for us boomers who wouldn't want anyone to think we needed a hearing aid!
Seriously, though, the Soundhawk does represent an advancement in the hearing aid world, especially for those of us with mild to moderate hearing losses, most of it caused by our youthfull enthusiasm for rock music. By focusing on amplification of only one source - indoors, outdoors, restaurant, or driving - you can listen (aka: pay attention to) the sounds you want to hear and minimize sounds you don't want to hear.
If you want to hear what your dining companion is saying in a crowded restaurant (yes!), your Soundhawk will amplify his voice and minimize the crowd noise. If you want to be able to hear the street sounds around you while you walk to work, you can listen to those, or you can listen to the TV or an outdoor concert and minimize the sound of the people talking around you. This ability is aided not only by the 'Scoop' earpiece and the smart phone app (iPhone or Android) settings, but by an additional microphone that you can place near the source of the sound you are choosing.
What's truly amazing about this very smart hearing aid (excuse the expression), is its price. True, the Soundhawk currently is designed to be used by one ear (use your best ear), but still.... There are dozens of hearing amplification gadgets on the market that cost far more than the pre-order price of $279.
Read more about the Soundhawk on its website and on Facebook. Other sources for this blog: Wired, Techcrunch. Confession: Boomer Babe has an educational and professional background in speech and hearing science.
Keeping you posted....