Xu B.,Starkey Hearing Technologies |
Sommerfeldt S.D.,Brigham Young University
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America | Year: 2014
In a diffuse sound field, prior research has established that a secondary source can theoretically achieve perfect cancellation at an error microphone in the far field of the secondary source. However, the sound pressure level is generally only reduced in a small zone around the error sensor, and at a distance half of a wavelength away from the error sensor, the averaged sound pressure level will be increased by more than 10dB. Recently an acoustic energy quantity, referred to as the generalized acoustic energy density (GED), has been introduced. The GED is obtained by using a weighting factor in the formulation of total acoustic energy density. Different values of the weighting factor can be chosen for different applications. When minimizing the GED at the error sensor, one can adjust the weighting factor to increase the spatial extent of the "quiet zone" and to achieve a desired balance between the degree of attenuation in the quiet zone and the total energy added into the sound field. © 2014 Acoustical Society of America. Source
Handshake, a maker of wholesale order apps for mobile, will target new overseas markets after raising a $14 million Series B. The round was led by Sozo Ventures and includes returning investors Emergence Capital, SoftTech VC, BOLDstart Ventures, MHS Capital, Point Nine, and Primary Venture Partners. Founded in 2010, the New York-based startup has now received a total of $23.5 million in funding. Founder and chief executive officer Glen Coates tells TechCrunch that Sozo Ventures, which focuses on bringing U.S. companies to new countries, will help Handshake develop a strategy for expanding into Asia. It will also use its new capital to grow its engineering and product teams and add more features to Handshake’s platform. One priority will be making Handshake more customizable to fit the needs of different customers. Handshake differentiates from other wholesale order apps (competitors include Pepperi, NetSuite, and TradeGecko) by focusing on mobile first and trying to make its enterprise software as easy to use as consumer apps. Coates says that when he founded Handshake, good technology for manufacturers and distributors to sell to consumers already existed, but wholesale orders were still managed using outdated, cumbersome methods. “That part of the business was running on awful manual processes: pen and paper, fax, email, Excel, you name it. There were basically no good technology options for B2B. There definitely wasn’t a great native mobile app for the iPhone or iPad, which had just come out,” he says. Handshake started with an app for sales staff called Handshake Rep, before launching an e-commerce app called Handshake Direct. The company claims it currently has 1,000 customers, who used its software to handle 1.2 million orders worth $2.5 billion last year. Its clients include Bugaboo, Roland Music, Silhouette, Starkey Hearing Technologies, and Vega.
News Article | May 23, 2014
"Wow, you sure couldn't have asked for a better day for cooking outside," a man says over a sizzling barbecue. Children play and yell in the distance, and birds chatter directly above my head. "I can't wait 'til everyone tries my new recipe," he continues. Though his voice is near, it's difficult to hear him clearly. The background noise makes understanding him a challenge, and certain consonants — the "t" in "couldn't," and the "s" and "k" in "asked," for example — sound dull, making the man's words seem incomplete. But I don't have a hearing impairment, and this man isn't speaking to me in real life. His voice seeps through my earphones during an online simulation from Starkey Hearing Technologies. It's one of several digital tools that allows people with normal hearing to walk a mile, or a few feet, in the shoes of someone with hearing loss. According to the World Health Organization, 360 million people around the world have disabling hearing loss — more than 5% of the global population. Nearly 50 million Americans experience hearing loss, including one in five teens and 47% of adults aged 75 or older. It's also associated with war: 60% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan return with hearing loss and tinnitus. More hearing loss simulators like Starkey's are available online, including one from the Hear the World Foundation and a video (below) from the House Ear Institute. They aim to portray the experience of hearing loss for parents, partners and friends of people with hearing impairments, as well as the generally curious public. But how accurate are these simulations, and what goes into creating them? Are they even the best way to communicate hearing loss to those who hear normally? This video, from the now-closed House Ear Institute, illustrates mild, moderate and severe hearing loss. Dr. Brian Moore, a specialist in the perception of sound and leader of the Auditory Perception Group at the University of Cambridge, believes these types of simulations are the best we have, at the moment. Moore has researched how the auditory system works, the relationship between sound stimuli and what we actually perceive, and the changes in perception that occur when people have hearing loss. In 1995, he published Perceptual Consequences of Cochlear Damage with an accompanying audio CD, which included eight demonstrations that simulated the effects of hearing loss. Over the past 19 years, Moore and his colleagues have modified the demonstrations with minor tweaks. "We know that these simulations aren't perfect, but they give a reasonable idea" Moore tells Mashable. His team has evaluated its simulations by testing patients who have a hearing impairment in one ear only — the other ear is normal. First, they play a sound through his impaired ear. Then they process that same sound to simulate the hearing loss of his impaired ear and present it to his good ear. That patients evaluates how similar he finds the sounds. More often than not, they say it matches pretty well, according to Moore. But the process isn't all trial and error. For instance, simulations are based on measurements of two aspects of hearing impairment that specialists know occur: loudness recruitment, or the ability to detect high levels of sound normally, but not low levels, and reduced frequency selectivity, when the ear can't perceive different frequencies in complex sounds (such as music or overlapping speech). First measuring a person's sound detection threshold (the lowest sounds he or she can perceive) helps to actually process the simulation, with nearly accurate results. "Though the simulation doesn't sound very nice to people with normal hearing, it's actually not quite as bad as what the hearing-impaired person is experiencing. So, there's some other dimension that we're missing in these simulations. We're getting close, but we're not quite there," Moore says. Moore and others have also worked on simulations of what it's like to listen through a cochlear implant. "Cochlear implants are devices usually given only to people with severe or profound hearing loss, who don't get much benefit from a hearing aid. They are increasingly being used in very young children," Moore says. The cochlear implant simulations may be even more surprising to the average person — the sound is staticky, but you can pick up what is said. Today's cochlear implants, however, still aren't very good at picking up frequencies in complex sounds, such as music. There's room for improvement in that space, too. In addition to giving parents, spouses and friends of hearing-impaired people a lot of insight into what their loved ones are experiencing, Moore also believes these simulations can be useful tools in encouraging teens especially to take care of their hearing. "They should take steps to protect their hearing if they're at a very loud concert ... Demonstrations of what it's like to have a hearing loss can be effective in persuading people about that." You can find some of Moore's latest simulations on the Action on Hearing Loss website, a nonprofit that supports hearing loss research in the UK. The site even lets you check if you have hearing loss, with an easy quiz. "It's by no means perfect," Moore says, again, of these simulations. "But we're fairly confident we're on the right lines." Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.
News Article | March 5, 2015
One night in June 2010, New York composer Richard Einhorn went to bed in a motel feeling stuffy and woke up almost completely deaf. At the time, Einhorn, who wrote the oratorio Voices of Light, had limited ways to deal with his nightmare condition, known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss. He visited an audiologist and bought a hearing aid for $3,000. (His insurance plan, like most, didn’t cover it.) Unhappy with the expense and the limits of the earpiece’s technology, which struggled to adapt to different noise levels, Einhorn began searching for alternative gadgets that could restore more of his hearing for less money. Today, he has a backpack full of them. To supplement his old-school hearing aid, he favors a $350 iPhone-linked earpiece made by Sound World Solutions, a hearing-hardware maker in Park Ridge, Ill., for whom he’s begun to consult. With the Sound World device on, he can amplify phone calls and streaming music as well as his surroundings. A third, $500 earpiece was custom-made by Ultimate Ears in Irvine, Calif., to help him detect a wider range of musical tones while composing. For restaurants and theaters, he has a $45 directional microphone that pairs with a $5 app to isolate desired voices. And for especially cacophonous places, he has spare $700 microphones, made by Etymotic Research in Elk Grove Village, Ill., that he can strap to companions. Einhorn credits the audio patchwork with saving his career and his life. “It’s incredible,” he says over lunch in a busy restaurant, as he toggles the proper setting on his phone. The Bluetooth-connected earpieces aren’t classified as hearing aids by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They’re called personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs. Basic versions of such devices have existed for more than a decade in lonely RadioShack aisles and a handful of other places. But in the past 18 months, advances in circuitry and low-energy Bluetooth transmission have helped developers radically improve the designs to make high-quality, long-lasting alternativesto hearing aids while keeping pricesat a fraction of the industry standard. Whatever regulators or insurers call them, PSAP manufacturers are angling to expand the $6 billion global market for hearing technology. Largely due to the cost, 75 percent of the 34 million Americans with hearing loss don’t use aids, says David Kirkwood, the editor of industry blog Hearing Health & Technology Matters. “A lot of people will continue to pay for traditional hearing aids,” he says. “But there are now inexpensive, easy-to-get alternatives.” Part of the reason PSAPs are cheap is that they’re unregulated. Hearing-aid fittings and audiological calibrations account for much of the cost of aids from the big six makers—Siemens, Sonova, Starkey Hearing Technologies, William Demant, GN ReSound, and Widex. A midlevel pair that retails for $4,400 costs about $440 to manufacture, according to AARP. Research and development spending is also a factor: Unlike the free Bluetooth standard used by upstarts such as Sound World, old-school hearing aids run on proprietary signal processing and transmission technology. Siemens, Sonova, and Widex declined to comment; GN ReSound, Starkey, and William Demant didn’t respond to requests for comment. Still, being kept out of doctors’ offices has been a huge problem for PSAP makers, says Venkat Rajan, who tracks medical devices for researcher Frost & Sullivan. While the size of the market can be difficult to gauge given the lack of regulation, anecdotal evidence suggests sales have been soft, he says. It doesn’t help that, according to industry journal the Hearing Review, the average American buying a hearing aid is 71 years old. “Trying to find that customer base has been difficult,” Rajan says. The marketing of hearing aids, classified as medical devices by the FDA since 1977, is strictly regulated in the U.S. According to agency guidelines that predate the latest generation of equipment, PSAP makers aren’t allowed to market their products as medical devices. Instead, they’re supposed to be used recreationally by people who can already hear comfortably. The FDA, which wouldn’t say whether it plans to change its rules, occasionally issues warnings to companies it believes to be violating them, so PSAP ads tend to include at least one verbal somersault. An ad for Etymotic describes its latest product, the Bean, thusly: “Not a hearing aid but has many advantages.” The $300 Bean is the brainchild of Mead Killion, the co-founder of Etymotic. He invented the analog hi-fi amplification technology behind the device back in 1988, but says it’s only since 2013 that circuitry has become cheap enough for the product to be worth manufacturing en masse. His company uses the same technology in adaptive earplugs designed for orchestra musicians or infantry troops to keep music or conversation audible while dampening loud noises. A decade ago, Killion failed to persuade the FDA that early PSAPs should be sold over the counter. He’s lobbying for a contract with the Department of Defense. Normally, I hear fine, but I conducted a hands-on experiment shortly before an interview with Killion. It became clear that having professional help putting these things in is a good idea. Initially, one Bean in each ear made it easy to hear faraway gossip in a noisy Whole Foods. Then I pushed them too far, and suddenly could hear nothing at all. Killion said the problem was waxy buildup in my narrow ear canals, so the next step was a $150 cerumenectomy—that is, getting a doctor to scrape out gobs of wax and clear the blockage. The era of Internet diagnosis hasn’t eliminated the need for medical professionals, says Erin Miller, president of the American Academy of Audiology. “This is our biggest problem with the PSAPs in general,” she says. “We want to make sure someone has looked in the patient’s ear.” All the more reason, PSAP makers argue, to put their products in medical offices next to those from Starkey and ReSound. For now, the companies’ sales will be limited to true believers like Einhorn, the composer. “You have to remember that I’m a maniac,” he says. “I will do anything to hear as best as possible in any situation.” The bottom line: New audio technology manufacturers are trying to break into the $6 billion hearing-aid market.
News Article | March 26, 2015
(http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/lr8z5f/hearing) has announced the addition of the "Hearing Protection Devices - Global Strategic Business Report" report to their offering. This report analyzes the worldwide markets for Hearing Protection Devices in US$ Thousands by the following Product Segments: Earmuffs, and Earplugs. The report provides separate comprehensive analytics for the US, Canada, Japan, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and Latin America. Annual estimates and forecasts are provided for the period 2014 through 2020. Also, a seven-year historic analysis is provided for these markets. Market data and analytics are derived from primary and secondary research. Company profiles are primarily based on public domain information including company URLs. The report profiles 43 companies including many key and niche players such as: