Engineers have created a hearing aid for people who have perfectly good hearing.
This device, called “Soundhawk” was designed by former engineers from Palm, Apple and Amazon, according to The Verge. It’s described as a “smart listening system” and only costs $299.
Soundhawk is just a small headset that connects to a phone via Bluetooth 2.1. It has two microphones on it and one button, and isn’t limited to functioning as a hearing aid. Soundhawk’s headset, called “Scoop,” can also perform the standard Bluetooth headset tasks, such as taking calls or calling up Siri.
In addition to the Scoop and the app, Soundhawk also has a remote microphone that also connects to the app via Bluetooth and comes with a case that doubles as a charging station for the products. This microphone has a 33-foot range and can be placed on a table or even attached to someone’s shirt.
But the real difference between Scoop and a typical Bluetooth headset is Soundhawk’s mobile app. The app allows people to choose what they want to hear.
“This was inspired by ophthalmologists, and watching them test people for eyewear,” said Soundhawk President and CEO Mike Kisch. “The one thing they change is putting different lenses in front of people to test for vision, and that’s not objective, it’s subjective. We do the exact same thing with sound.”
Soundhawk has four audio presets: indoors, outdoors, dining and driving.
According to Soundhawk’s website, the device in “Active Listening mode” elevates the sounds someone wants to hear while reducing the unwanted background noise. And people can personalize their Soundhawk by “tuning” it.
And The Verge said that while tuning the sound, the user can pull the sound louder or quieter as well as picking up higher or lower sounds.
Kisch said he guesses that the majority of people will do baseline tuning and some little changes on a daily basis.
“What we have found is that people a little more techie and a little more interested in the mechanics of it, get crazy about constant fine tuning,” Kisch said. “We wanted to offer that without forcing it on the people who want simpler experiences.”
And Kisch said that they’re not trying to be a hearing aid company, and they’re not a replacement for one. To be one, they’d have to get approval from and be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“People who have hearing loss typically have it in both ears, and there’s a rehab process,” he said. “There’s also a whole channel of audiologists. Those people should stay with that.”