Bionic Ears – Introduction to State of the Art Hearing Aid Technology
The exciting thing about being present year after year at one of the world’s largest and most multi-disciplinary hacker conferences, is that you get to hear from people who unique and fascinating interests. One such person at the event last week was Helga Velroyen and her talk explaining the world of hearing aids entitled: “Bionic Ears – Introduction to State of the Art Hearing Aid Technology.” Her presentation brought not only rarely discussed facts about modern hearing aids, but also personal experience of what works and what is still lacking in terms of technology for a young people who is hearing impaired.
Some aspects of hearing aids you may already know perhaps because someone in your own life has one: they are expensive, they take an extremely long period of time (months) to finally get and calibrate, they typically only slightly improve hearing, and with some exception – are not very resistant to extreme conditions (water for example). But what many of us may not have realized is how most of the design and improvements on hearing aids over the past decade have only benefitted the elderly or any individuals who stay home and only speak in quiet rooms with 1 or 2 people with no background music. Despite having recently gone from analog to digital, the 2 autofocus microphones of the hearing aid cannot handle a standard party scenario. Thus making hearing aids and social engagements, a difficult if not impossible combination.
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