I’ve always been amazed by the directional microphones in my hearing aids. They are super-sensitive, they can be adjusted to catch noise either 360 degrees or just from the person speaking to me, and they are smaller than your fingernail. The technology that has to go into such finely tuned instruments is amazing, and I recently came across a good video of Daniel Warren, director of research for Knowles Electronics, that gives a flavor of the rocket science behind them. (It’s a promotional video for Wolfram Research, known for the Mathematica software tools used by engineers and, more recently, for the revolutionary computational search engine, Wolfram Alpha, developed over the past decade by computer science genius Steve Wolfram). The video is also a good example of the pains engineers have to go through to explain in layman’s terms how their inventions work and why they are so important. My rule of thumb is, even if I can’t understand half of what they say, if the product works, I will use it.
Gennum Corp. of Canada, long one of the leading suppliers of digital signal processing (DSP) chips and other technologies to the hearing-aid and headset industries, is abandoning the hearing-aid market with the spinout of its hearing instrument design and manufacturing operations to a private equity group and the sale of its consumer Bluetooth headset business to a consumer electronics company based in Sweden. [Read more…]
Several weeks ago I complained that Clarity Products hadn’t adequately explained the enhanced Digital Clarity Power (DCP) technology it was promoting as the latest and greatest innovation for its cordless and amplified telephones. Clarity was quick to answer my questions with comments on the blog post. And now on their website they’ve unveiled the technical background information they promised. [Read more…]
Let’s talk hair-replacement therapy. No, I’m not talking about premature baldness, Rogaine or Hair Club for Men. I’m talking about the 15,000 hair-like cells we have in each cochlea at birth that are responsible for translating sound waves from the ear drum into electrical signals the brain can decode as speech, music, a baby crying and all other sounds. When these cells die due to natural aging processes, trauma, or exposure to too much noise or otoxic drugs, we experience sensorineurial hearing loss, the most common form of hearing impairment. [Read more…]
I frequently entertain myself with a futuristic vision of high-tech eyeglasses equipped with a tiny microphone, a tiny speech processing chip, and a tiny holographic projector that can transcribe everyday conversation in real time and project it in front of my eyes like the closed-captioning system on my TV. Believe it or not, all the technologies required to create such a product are known — it will only take another 10 or 15 (okay, maybe 20) years of development before we see such a device. [Read more…]