As well as being sometimes prohibitively expensive, hearing aids are often uncomfortable and too conspicuous for their owners — but by making them smaller, the device become less powerful. Wear instead aims to help those with hearing loss incorporate the device into their outfit, as well as giving them clearer sound.
Developed by music producer Michelle Temple and Eric Rosenthal, president of audio and video tech company Creative Technology, the device is not only an amplifier like many older hearing aids, but is a collection of high-fidelity directional microphones that can be controlled by the user depending on their situation. Wear uses analog rather than digital signal processing to avoid the problems involved with audio delays and to take advantage of its abilities with near-field signals: nearer sounds are amplified while others are diminished. Although not designed to completely replace the traditional hearing aid, Wear performs better in noisy environments where picking out individual signals is difficult. Users can also simply hold the device towards the person speaking in order to hear them better.
The device itself is a circular pickup, available in dark red plastic or a wood and metal finish and worn on a chain around the neck. Its stylish design means it can complement outfits and stop wearers from feeling embarrassed by their medical device. Although the current model uses 3.5mm headphones, the team hopes to investigate the potential of bone conduction in later versions. The video below explains more about the project:
Through a recent succesful Kickstarter campaign, the product could be purchased for as low as USD 50. Wear isn’t the only project to redesign the hearing aid to cut the cost of the devices — the BioAid is another example, which turns the iPhone into hearing aid.