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Glasses with built-in hearing aid

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April 10, 2006

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April 11, 2006 A new and elegant hearing aid invisibly built into the arms of a pair of glasses will go on sale later this month in Holland. The Varibel hearing-glasses will offer hearing-impaired folk respite from the aesthetically unpleasing and technologically limited traditional hearing aid. In each leg of Varibel glasses frame there is a row of four tiny, interconnected microphones, which selectively intensify the sounds that come from the front, while dampening the surrounding noise. Tests have shown that the Varibel user can separate desired sounds from undesired background noise very effectively with the glasses’ technology, with the added bonus that natural sounds can still be heard.

Originally developed at TU Delft University, the Varibel hearing-glasses were developed into a consumer product in partnership with Philips, Frame Holland, the design agencies MMID and Verhoeven, and others.

The Varibel cannot be compared to traditional hearing aids. Dr. C.H.M. Stengs, ENT specialist at the Rijnstate Hospital in Arnhem, said of the Varibel: "Practical experience with the hearing-glasses supports the theoretical claims that the ability to understand speech is much better. There is a significant improvement in the sound quality.”

With Varibel, natural sounds can still be heard. This solution allows people to hear naturally and clearly in the direction in which they are looking. This has great advantages for daily life. Martin de Jong, audio-technician from Huizen, says: "With the Varibel, the natural sounds that people enjoy are retained. This works surprisingly well. People can hear well and at the same time clearly – and especially in rooms such as in a cafe or at a birthday party."

The product will initially only be available in Holland.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
3 Comments

Yet another not new at all \'new\' product profiled by Gizmag. Glasses with embedded hearing aids have been available since the electronics were first miniaturized enough for the behind the ear style.

The earliest version was available in the mid 1950\'s. By 1960 some models were available with earpieces no larger than conventional glasses of the period.

http://beckerexhibits.wustl.edu/did/20thcent/part6.htm

All this company has done is to use the latest hearing aid technology and put it into a pair of glasses, the same thing most hearing aid companies have been doing for 60 years.

Facebook User

Actually, this is a Very Good Idea; and it\'s backed up by legitimate research.

In any case, the problem with directional mics in hearing aids is the limited port spacing: Using an array of mics lined up in the arms of eyeglasses allows for much greater directionality%u2026 And I can tell you as both a hearing aid dispensing engineer as well as a longtime hearing aid user, every last dB improvement in S/N makes a Big Difference, especially in \"cocktail party\" noise.

With such a powerful array, and the ability to easily connect via wire the two arms (saving power from RF transmission), linking all eight mics together into a \"super array\" with true binaural speech processing would make this into a Really Good Device.

From the American Academy of Audiology: \"Microphone Array Embedded in Eyeglasses\" at: http://www.audiology.org/news/Pages/20110405.aspx

The advantages of an improved signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) are well known. When multiple microphones work together in a \"microphone array,\" advanced analysis and processing of sounds, with respect to speech and noise acoustic cues, spatial characteristics, and more, can occur. An improved SNR allows people wearing hearing aids to perceive speech more easily, thus increasing the likelihood of improved (i.e., lower) speech reception thresholds and improved (i.e., higher) speech intelligibility. Chung (2004) and Luts et al (2004) addressed many of the issues, advantages, and challenges associated with array-based microphones.

Mens (2011) recently described a four-microphone array embedded in eyeglasses to evaluate the benefit of the microphone array located more anteriorly than the traditional pinna/ear location. Two groups of subjects participated; 15 people with hearing loss and five people with normal hearing were evaluated. The eyeglass-based four-microphone array has a sampling rate of 16,000 Hz and a bandwidth of approximately 200 to 6400 Hz. The averaged directivity index (DI) was determined to be approximately 9 dB.

For both groups, the speech reception threshold in noise improved between 6 and 6.5 dB while using the four-microphone array, as compared to a more traditional single-microphone, omni-directional BTE system. The anterior microphone placement outperformed the more traditional location primarily due to a longer array, resulting in a higher directionality index and improved speech understanding in noise.

For More Information, References, and Recommendations

Mens LHM. (2011) Speech Understanding in Noise with an Eyeglass Hearing Aid: Asymmetric Fitting and the Head Shadow Benefit of Anterior Microphones. International Journal of Audiology 50:27-33.

Luts H, Maj JB, Soede W, Wouters J. (2004) Better speech perception in noise with an assistive multimicrophone array for hearing aids. Ear & Hearing 25(5):411-420.

Chung K. (2004) Challenges and recent developments in hearing aids. Part I. Speech understanding in noise, microphone technologies and noise reduction algorithms. Trends in Amplification 8(3):83-124.

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hello, I would like to know where I can buy glasses with earing aids Thanks Jitka

Jitka Taklova
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