With that number expected to skyrocket to 2.5 billion by 2050, it’s crucial to address the challenges faced by this growing community. Age-related hearing loss (ARHL) is not just an isolated issue. Often, it comes hand in hand with other chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular disease. These health concerns can significantly impact the quality of life, making it essential to find effective solutions.
Equipped with sensors that monitor vital signs like heart rate and oxygen saturation levels, these revolutionary “hearables” are poised to change the game. But how can they make a difference?
Astonishingly, various studies have shown that wearable devices, like smartwatches, fitness trackers, and apps, have already proven their effectiveness in promoting physical activity. And now, with the advent of sensor-enhanced hearing aids and Over-the-Counter (OTC) options, we’re on the verge of an exciting revolution.
Imagine this: sensor-enhanced hearing aids that motivate wearers to be more active, just like their wrist-worn counterparts! With the potential to improve overall well-being and alleviate chronic conditions, these ear-worn devices could be a game-changer. However, the impact depends on their widespread adoption and usage.
That’s why researchers are diving into the world of fitness technology to better understand its usage among adults with impaired speech-in-noise recognition (SIN). A study by Marieke F. et al. in the International Journey of Audiology that was published online Nov 14, 2022 addresses this topic of hearables.
1. How many adults with impaired SIN recognition regularly use fitness technology, such as smartwatches, fitness watches, or physical activity apps, compared to their normal-hearing peers?
2. What are the characteristics of adults with impaired SIN recognition who use fitness technology? How do they differ from those with normal SIN recognition who use these devices?
In a fascinating study with 725 participants, including those with and without impaired speech in noise recognition, the results were astonishing. Adults with hearing impairment displayed similar characteristics to their normal-hearing counterparts when it came to using fitness technology. However, it was noted that hearing aid users utilized fitness watches less frequently. This could pose an exciting challenge when ear-worn fitness trackers enter the market.
The implications are profound – the potential to reach inactive adults with hearing impairment and encourage them to lead more active lifestyles is undeniable. But, of course, the road ahead is paved with further research and fine-tuning. By understanding physical activity patterns among adults with hearing impairment, we can develop targeted interventions to address their unique needs.
While fitness wearables and apps offer a promising way to increase activity, they might not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, for those who embrace this technology, the benefits are limitless.
If you’re curious to dive deeper into the world of hearables and learn more about this groundbreaking study, reach out to Hears to U, Audiology, Hearing & Hearables in Minnesota. The journey to a more active, empowered life for the hearing impaired awaits!
Thanks for reading and we hope it was helpful for you.
What? I must have misheard you. Turn up my shirt? Is this Star Trek? Should I tap my communicator?
Interesting that you mention SciFi. Many inventions were first discussed in science fiction. However, that is a topic for another day. Yes, I did say turn up your shirt. That is the idea behind a new “acoustic fabric” developed by engineers at MIT and collaborators at Rhode Island School of Design. There is an interesting pairing: MIT and an art/design school. Could it be a match made in audiologic heaven?
These vibrations are on the scale of nanometers- far too small to ordinarily be sensed. To capture these imperceptible signals, the researchers created a flexible fiber that, when woven into a fabric, bends with the fabric like seaweed on the ocean’s surface.
The fabric can capture sounds ranging in decibel from a quiet library to heavy road traffic, and determine the precise direction of sudden sounds like handclaps. When woven into a shirt’s lining, the fabric can detect a wearer’s subtle heartbeat features. The fibers can also be made to generate sound, such as a recording of spoken words, that another fabric can detect.
“Wearing an acoustic garment, you might talk through it to answer phone calls and communicate with others”, says Wei Yan, who is now an assistant professor at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. “In addition, this fabric can imperceptibly interface with the human skin, enabling the wearer to monitor their heartbeat and respiratory condition in a comfortable, continuous, real-time, and long-term manner.”
Their research led to two important discoveries: Such a fabric would have to incorporate stiff fibers to effectively convert sound waves into vibrations. And, the team would have to design a fiber that could bend with the fabric and produce an electrical output in the process.
Next, the team wove the fiber with conventional yarns to produce panels of drapable, machine-washable fabric. “It feels almost like a lightweight jacket-lighter than denim, but heavier than a dress shirt”, says Elizabeth Meiklejohn, an RISD graduate student who wove the fabric using a standard loom. “The fabric was able to detect the angle of the sound to with 1 degree at a distance of 3 meters away”, says Noel.
The team stitched a fiber into a shirt’s inner lining, just over the chest, and found it accurately detected the heartbeat of a healthy volunteer; including subtle variations of the heart’s S1 and S2 features (those make the “lub-dub sounds of the heartbeat). The researchers envision that a directional sound-sensing fabric could help those with hearing loss to tune into a speaker amid noisy surroundings. In addition to wearable hearing aids, clothes that communicate, and garments that track vital signs, the team sees applications beyond clothing.
Yan says, “It can be integrated with spacecraft skin to listen to (accumulating) space dust, or embedded into buildings to detect cracks or strains. It can even be woven into a smart net to monitor fish in the ocean. The fiber is opening widespread opportunities.”
I guess this was a match made in acoustic heaven. If you have questions about this article or would like to read it in its entirety, contact us at Hears to U Audiology.
Yan’s co-authors include Grace Noel, Gabriel Loke, Tural Khudiyevm Juliette Marion, Julianna Cherston, Atharva Sahasrabudhe, Joao Wilbert, Irmandy Wicasksono, and professors John Joannopoulos and Yoel Fink at MIT along with collaborators from the Rhode Island School of Design, Lei Zhu from Case Western Reserve University, Chu Ma from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Reed Hoyt of the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.
We are glad you asked because sometimes we wonder that ourselves. Just kidding. We know what a hearable is and it can have so many features it would be hard to define in one sentence. Let us try.
Where? Well, hearables are made for different environments and situations. There are hearables that will help you hear when you are working out. Those are the most basic though because they are also essentially streamers for your music. A hearable can help you hear on a conference or Zoom call. Or on a phone call in general.
The hearables that interest us are the devices that help you hear in a room, in noise, listening to TV, a lecture, and even in quiet! If you are not ready for a hearing aid, why not get a hearable?
Stay tuned as there will be more hearables coming to the marketplace soon.
Check out our selection of Hearables!
The Signia Active Pro
How do you convince someone you think has a hearing loss, but has decided not to get hearing aids, to find something so that he or she can hear better? You don’t want them to get a product that just makes all sounds louder; that could actually damage the hearing they still have. This may be the product for you.
The Signia Active Pro.
These look like premium consumer earbuds, but they are actually hearing aids utilizing Signia’s technology. They are best for people with a mild to moderate hearing loss and will require seeing an audiologist. Once the hearing test is done, these buds can be set to your specific hearing needs. We at Hears to U Audiology will also help you find the best tips for comfortable wear, and maybe even help you choose a color.
These Signia Active Pro earbuds have a number of interesting features. You can connect them to your smartphone via bluetooth. This will allow you to stream music, podcasts, moves, and even take telephone calls. Once you have access to the Signia app, it will guide you through the features of your new earbuds and help you get the best sound for every situation. The Signia Assistant within the Signia app is actually an AI digital assistant that will help you adapt your hearing by learning your preferences. It can even provide information and suggest videos to help you learn more about your new purchase. Through the TeleCare option, we at Hears to U Audiology can even remotely fine tune the settings on the hearing aids; no need to come into the office.
The Signia Active Pro earbuds are rechargeable. They will come with a carrying case that is also a recharging station that can recharge via a USB cable or wirelessly. The case takes about 3 hours to fully charge via USB and about 5 hours via Qi wireless. The earbuds take about 4 hours to charge which gives you about 26 hours of listening or 23 hours of listening and 5 hours of streaming. If you don’t have that much time, a fast charge of 30 minutes will allow you to listen for 5 hours with 3 hours of streaming. The case will recharge the earbuds three times.
This also means you have access to Signia’s line of accessories, like the StreamLine TV (stream the TV directly to the Active Pros), the StreamLine Mic (functions as a remote microphone to help in challenging situations, like a noisy business meeting), the miniRemote (allows to increase, or decrease the volume setting of your aids and change programs).
A Bluetooth streaming device or “hearable” or electronic earbud, or whatever you want to call these pieces that fit in your ears like the airpod, offers many of the same features but more features. The hearables are a bit more comfortable without the cords and have many more features than a traditional Bluetooth streamer. There are many types of these electronic Bluetooth streaming “earbuds” in the market place and Hears to U, Audiology is ready to help you decide which best meets your hearing and general listening needs. Some offer Bluetooth streaming, while others offer that plus noise cancellation, some offer a mic so you can talk on the phone easily and the newest on the market offers the ability to change the sound if you are wearing it in a noisy environment and want to hear people talking. This is the Hearable, the one that can do all that the airpod does and much much more for less money.
The Nuheara IQbuds2 Max has been totally revamped from the previous versions and has a number of features that we love at Hears to U, Audiology. Let’s take a look at the most popular features that address the reasons many are looking for earbuds in the first place.
One reason we like the Nuheara Max is the noise cancellation benefit. With these, you can block ambient noise. It offers a new active cancellation feature that looks actively for noise in the environment and puts out a reverse type phase signal to decrease the noise. Another reason these are awesome compared to some other earbuds is the speech enhancement features on the Nuheara earbud Max called the SINC (speech in noise control) feature. This feature helps you hear speech better in background noise, boosting the speech above the noise for easy listening. We love that there is a directional focus that will allow you to focus in a conversation, even in noisy background situations, hearing so much better. All of these features will benefit you so that you will hear so much better in a noisy restaurant or venue playing music or too much noise. These allow you to balance the conversation to be louder and more clear and turn the background down. The Nuheara IQBud2 Max earbuds will then remember the levels you prefer for next time you are in a complicated noisy environment and you want to hear well!
After you order a pair and open up the box, you will be prompted by your phone to take a little hearing screening test. You also can add a good diagnostic test you may have from an audiologist. Note, we do not recommend these hearable earbuds for anyone who has more than a mild hearing loss because there won’t be enough benefit for you. Once you completed adding the hearing information into the phone app, the hearable earbuds will offer a prescribed output of the amplification that is personalized to you. This is not the same as a hearing aid but has some amplification to help you hear better without offering you too much or too little in noise. It also offers several preset settings for various environments including plane, street, and driving environments.
If you are going to exercise, the Nuheara Max hearable earbuds are sweatproof and waterproof. There is an easy feature that allows you to tap touch control to blend your hearing so that you have noise cancellation features but can still hear environmental sounds so you are aware of your surroundings while streaming music or something else via Bluetooth. Hear what is streaming from your phone, whether it be music, podcast or a nice phone conversation with a loved one. Cancel the world as you exercise at home, but blend the surround sound when jogging on the street, blend the surround sound with the streaming differently if you need to hear your instruction while at the gym. There are so many options for the Nuheara IQBud2 Max Earbuds. These little powerful hearable earbuds allow you to “remember” up to seven preset exercise locations. Makes your life easy with one push on your app.
This ability to blend sound is particularly important at work; whether you are in an office or working from home. The ability to focus on the task at hand is critical but you do not always want to block out the world entirely. The hearable Nuheara Max earbuds have three microphones that process the sounds inside and outside the ear to reduce distracting noise. The speech (SINC) feature allows you to turn down workplace noise but will blend environmental sounds so you are not completely isolated from your co-workers. Plus no one can hear what you are listening to if you happen to want to catch the latest news, or hear your favorite song.
The earbuds charge fast and so in about 90 minutes you can “stream” for about 5 hours. The case itself will also re-charge the buds as the case holds charge too. So if you listen for an hour and want more time later, just put the Nuheara hearable Max earbuds in the case and close the lid. It is that easy. Indicator lights will let you know the charging status of the buds. The case itself will allow you to recharge the buds three times, so you can have up to 20 hours of continuous streaming. And the multiple tips are there so you can find the comfy fit for your ears. Everybody’s ears are different sizes. Some very tall and larger men have tiny ear canals. Have you ever wondered why the standard tip doesn’t fit your ear? Ask an audiologist about your canal size so you can find the right tip. And luckily Nuheara offers many sizes with your order.
It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee from Nuheara and a 1-yr limited warranty.
We are proud to be working with Nuheara and their fabulous new hearable earbud product. Three cheers for that!