Hearing loss is a very common problem and it does not discriminate with age. With technology improving at a rapid rate there are now more options to aid hearing loss, but they do not come cheap. However, Eric Rosenthal and Michelle Temple have designed an affordable alternative and are seeking funding through Kickstarter for their project.
“Wear is an affordable, attractive, lightweight, wearable, assistive-directional microphone designed to improve quality of hearing,” according to Kickstarter. Creators, Rosenthal and Temple, wanted their product to be helpful, yet affordable to those who need it.
“Wear is not a replacement for a hearing aid,” the creators said on their product’s Kickstarter page. “Wear is designed to be used when an individual is interested in having a quality conversation in very noisy environments like family get-togethers, restaurants or meetings.”
Rosenthal explained that they used an “analog circuit design with no measurable latency” because “latency, [or delay], imposed by digital signal processing is detrimental to the hearing impaired due to lip sync, [or lip reading], difficulties.”
It is a directional microphone with a couple different functions. Rosenthal said that Wear can be used as, “a commentator’s microphone or as a recording microphone.” He went on to explain that Wear was “engineered to give preference to sound in a 6-foot circular zone” around the person using Wear “which captures, focuses and clarifies conversations in noisy environments, while reducing the effects of extraneous noise.”
This is possible because the “acoustic waves generated in that zone reach the microphones at the same time so they are amplified. Sounds from further away reach the microphones at different times and are not amplified.
Wear is designed to hang around the neck with the circular microphone lying flat on the chest area. The microphone itself is about 2 inches in length and about a fourth of an inch in width. The outer cases of Wear are available in different colors to choose from depending on the wearer’s style.
The microphone is used with regular headphones that can be plugged into the audio jack at the bottom of the microphone. There is a yellow light that turns on when the headphones have been plugged in that lets the user know that the device is turned on. It is also equipped with a volume adjuster.
Temple explained that they “used a rechargeable battery in the design which takes about an hour to fully charge and then the device can be used all day without replacing the battery.” Another nice feature is that when the headphones are not plugged in, the Wear is completely off, which also saves the battery life.
Rosenthal and Temple brought their idea to Kickstarter “in order to complete the case design and position themselves to start manufacturing in the United States and begin shipping units so that they can help [people] hear better.”
They have made about 70 units in their studio located in Brooklyn, N.Y. The creators of Wear have a guarantee that they will hold themselves accountable for “defective parts” but will not cover the improper use of the device.
Their manufacturing plan for Wear is to complete the “engineering and design for the case of the microphone and charger.” Their hopes are that all manufacturing will be done in the United States. They will use the “completed pre-production prototypes to conduct testing on individuals with various levels of hearing loss in order to fine-tune the functionality and maximize performance of our directional microphone.”
“Once the roll out of Wear is successful, we plan to identify, design and fabricate other low-cost products to help people improve quality of life,” the creators said on Kickstarter. “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.”
Backers can get a Wear of their own after pledging $125. The Wear will come fully assembled with a pair of earbuds, according to Kickstarter. For $50, backers will receive a Wear kit, which will require assembly.
As of Dec. 21, the project has earned $9,871 of the $30,000 goal. The project runs until Jan. 12, 2014.
Visit the project’s Kickstarter page to pledge.
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