Wearable technology is getting more sophisticated with each passing day! Much before FitBit’s and Bluetooth headphones, people have been using hearing aids for their hearing needs. With lots of manufacturers stepping up the game, hearing aid technology has not only become more advanced, but it’s also now more compact and more discreet.
These days hearing aids come in various sizes, shapes and colours that better match your hair, skin tone and personality. Some devices are being designed to be completely invisible in your ear as well. This is the year of different technologies, features and hearing aids which is expected to be changed in the upcoming days as well.
SpeakSee – Dutch startup with a strong sense of purpose
Talking about hearing aids, one cannot just ignore SpeakSee, a company with a strong sense of purpose that empowers people with hearing loss to take part in all conversations.The company was also announced as the winner in the pitch competition at CES Amsterdam as welll.
Founded by Dutch entrepreneur Jari Hazelebach and Marcel van der Ven (co-founder), SpeakSee offers a microphone based system which can transcribe what’s being said in real time. Jari Hazelebach grew up with two deaf parents who often had difficulty to interact even in ordinary circumstances in the family.
Smart microphones with 120 languages support
SpeakSee is a portable kit of smart microphones that accurately transcribe speech-to-text in over 120 languages and accents. The setup consists of three Wi-Fi wireless mics, a mic docking station and an iOS/Android app. Notably, users can also open web interface to see the transcripts as well.
In this case, each mic is clipped to the shirt of a person involved in a conversation. During the conversation, the microphone uses an array of sensors that isolate and capture speech from the user while not picking up background sound or the speech of other people.
App available on Android, iOS
Soon after, the mics transmit the audio to the docking station, which can be setup up to 20 meters or 66ft away. Further, it processes the speech picked up by the various mics, then transmits the audio data via Wi-Fi to the app on the deaf user’s smartphone. The app involves in quickly transcribing the data into text that is displayed onscreen in real time, with different colours and names. As of now, the transcription is free for up to 5 hours of audio monthly, after which it’s a $10/month subscription.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Jari Hazelebach, said, “As you can imagine my parents were the first to test this out. At first, we had a lot of issues but soon we started engaging with others. We wrote a post on a deaf blog and out of nowhere 200 people signed up. So we’ve been testing in the field with groups in the U.S., and also in the U.K. and the Netherlands.”
8 hours of battery life
Talking about the battery life, for microphones, it ranges from 2-4 hours of battery life depending on the amount of time the user speaks, average around 3 hours when the user is not continuously speaking. On the other hand, the Dock can be charged through micro USB connection, and it maintains up to 8 hours of battery life. For reference, the battery indicator is shown in the app as well.
SpeakSee is currently the subject of an Indiegogo campaign, with a pledge of US$249 getting backers a 1-mic solo kit, and $399 getting them a 3-mic basic kit. The estimated retail price for the basic kit is $699.
Destroying the social stigma?
With that being said, wearing a hearing aid is considered a stigma in most of the society till now. Most, avoid using hearing aid thinking it may develop an inferiority complex within the society they live in. But devices like SpeakSee and others seem to be a game changer which looks almost like cool devices with which most techies hang out with today. What’s your opinion regarding the hearing aid stigma in society today? Do let us know your opinion in the comment section below.
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