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Innovative Directional Microphone Accessory to Help You Hear Better in Noisy Situations



I came across an interesting device on my internet travels the other day, the Sound Selector, from Nuance Hearing. Nuance Hearing is an Israeli company that has a really strong pedigree in audio beamforming technology. They worked with Starkey to develop the table microphone accessory for them and decided that there was a benefit to bringing their breakthroughs to a wider audience. At present, the device is a stand alone device that you will use with a set of headphones or earphones. While that has benefits for people who don't wear hearing aids, it may cause problems for those who do. One way or the other though, I have a feeling that Nuance Hearing won't stop here and we could see a Bluetooth enabled version of the device in future. Let's talk Sound Selector.

Nuance Hearing Sound Selector

The Device

As I said, the device is a rechargeable directional microphone accessory that offers top of the line beamforming technology to help you hear what you want to hear, as opposed to surrounding noise or distractions. The device is similar in concept to both the Roger Select from Phonak and the TableMic from Starkey. It takes two hours to charge and it will run for twelve hours.

Headphones Only

As I said, the device works with headphones or earbuds only at the moment. It has no wireless connection onboard and therefore could not easily be connected to hearing aids. You could work around that if you had a Bluetooth streaming device for your hearing aids

McGyvering it

So, technically, if you wanted to, you could connect the device to a Bluetooth streamer if it had a 3.5mm jack. For instance the Multi-mic from Resound, or the EduMic from Oticon. That would allow you to stream the audio output from the device straight to your hearing aids. It would perhaps be a bit unwieldy, but you know, it's possible.

Eight Microphones

The device has eight microphones onboard that are used to help you focus on what you want to. You can activate a microphone or steer the focus by simply pressing on the top of the device close to microphone or direction you want to focus on.

Three Smart Pre-Sets

The device comes with three very smart pre-sets which are:

Lecture Mode

This mode automatically follows a teacher or lecturer at the front of a classroom or lecture hall.

Conversation

This mode allows you to automatically select the direction of two individual speakers. Ideal for a conversation around a table with colleagues or friends.

Discussion

This mode automatically follows the dominant speaker in the situation as the conversation flows.

Why Would You Buy it?

There is a big question, why would you buy it? The company is kind of focused on the educational sector, but I see real advantages for people outside of that sector. I can see the real value for kids and college students, but I can also see the real value for people who have a problem with their hearing but feel it is only situational.

For Occasional Problems?

Many people with a milder hearing loss only have problems in certain situations. Just because it is an occasional problem, does not take away from the fact that it is a problem. So how do you fix it? You can go down the hearing aid route, but is the problem commensurate with the cost? If you are truly only having situational problems well then perhaps a situational device might be a better answer?

I think that the world of customised audio and assistance for people with hearing problems is changing. I say hearing problems rather than hearing loss, because there are a growing number of people out there who have problems hearing in noisy situations but have no detectable hearing loss.

For those and others with a milder hearing loss, devices like these can be a solution that deals with their problems. As this third party device sector grows and evolves, I think we will see wider use cases. Anyway, you can visit Nuance Hearing here and the device is $297 to buy, but that doesn't cover shipping.

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