Wear takes a fashionable approach to hearing aids
By Nick Lavars
December 23, 2013
From hiding hearing aids in your mouth to having them built-in to the arms of your glasses, we have seen some innovative efforts to assist those with hearing difficulties in recent years. With these unobtrusive technologies available, you might think that wearing a hearing aid around your neck would be the least desirable of options. Yet the team behind Wear believe that by favoring comfort and aesthetics over discretion, it may have conceived a viable alternative.
Wear looks like a regular necklace, but features a built-in high-fidelity analog microphone array that is designed to capture conversations in noisy environments and filter out unwanted noise. Sound is then relayed to the ears via any pair of 3.5 mm headphones with the user able to control the volume by a knob on the device.
The technology uses a beam-forming array (a directional signal technique designed to interfere constructively with signals at particular angles and destructively with others) of 10 directional microphones to create a 6 ft (1.83 m) circular zone around the wearer. Sounds generated within the zone are amplified by the system, while sounds outside are ignored, improving the audibility of close-quartered conversation.
Wear is 2 in (5.1 cm) in diameter, 0.25 in (0.6 cm) thick and weighs 1 oz (28 g), including an internal rechargeable battery. The company emphasizes that the device is not intended to be a replacement for a hearing aid, but predominantly to assist in having conversations in noisy environments.
The company hopes to build on the technology in Wear and develop more advanced products in the future, its Kickstarter page stating, "We are currently developing our next version of the directional microphone. Our goal is to create a wireless version of the Wear with the option of bone conduction headphones."
Through its Kickstarter campaign, an early bird level pledge for a Wear with earbuds, a recharging unit and original case is US$125. It is available with red, white or a black metal case and if all goes to plan, is estimated to ship in June 2014.
You can hear from the team behind Wear in the video below.