BOSE Hearing Aids and Hearing Assist Technology

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  • Thread starter jedishrfu
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Main Question or Discussion Point

The FDA approved a new class of hearing devices, BOSE hearing aids as described in this Tech Crunch article:

https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/05/bose-hearing-aid-gets-fda-approval/
What's unique is that they are self adjusted via a phone app and don't require a audiologist to perform the work.

They aren't out yet but there is another class of devices called hearings assists that are:

- BOSE Hearphones = headphones + hearing assists with directionality, adaptive noise cancelling and other adjustments for environment
- various cheap behind the ear hearing assists.

I bring this up because like many people my age, my hearing is fading over time and I was having trouble conversing when I couldn't hear what was said. Sometimes the voices would be muffled or the person said something unexpected and I couldn't tease out what they had actually said often resulting in confusion on my part.

Other times while driving, the car noise was enough to blank out the conversation leaving me in the dark trying to drive while trying to understand what was said without asking for the speaker to repeat it several times or skipping it and then getting the rejoinder that "I told you didn't you hear!" later on.

Anyway, I found the Bose hearphones and am evaluating them now and they seem to be a viable alternative to actual hearing aids for mild to moderate hearing loss ie $500 vs $2000-$8000 price ranges. They have bluetooth capability and adjusting noise cancelling.

They can be changed for focused person to person or semicircle or full circle directionality. The ear balance can be changed to boost one ear over the other. They can adjust the treble response...

What they can't do and that hearings can do is to individually adjust frequency bands boosting one over the other to bring your hearing back to a reasonable range but never as good as it was originally (so as to not overdrive the ear I think). They also cannot do frequency shifting which a higher frequency range shifted down a bit for those with total high frequency hearing loss.

I hope this isn't considered an advertisement and I'm not being paid to talk about them. I thought some folks here that are on the edge about hearing aids might like to know that there are other options.

Here's an audiologists take on the hearphones which is what got me interested in them:

 
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As a secondary comment, my students did a summer project last year where we constructed a similar device although not as polished.

Basically, we used two USB lapel mics with -40db sensitivity connected to a Raspberry-PI along with headphones for listening. The idea was that the PI would perform rudimentary beamforming ie add the left and right signals to emphasize person to person hearing assist.

We thought they could be used by an auditorium speaker trying to hear the question of a student at 60 ft away. Human speech is 70db when 1 foot away from the speaker and drops 6db for each doubling of the distance.

Code:
1 ft = 70db
2 ft = 64db
4 ft = 58db
8 ft = 52db
16 ft = 46db
32 ft = 40db
64 ft = 34db
The few takeaways we learned:
1) Don't buy cheap lapel mics (our USB lapel mics both had the same fixed USB address)
2) Don't buy cheap mics period (the sensitivity varied between them and they need to be balanced)
3) The raspberry-pi introduced a noticeable delay of 1/10 sec or so that sounded a bit like an echo
4) The mics should be placed near each ear using the head for separation of the soundspace

Our device looked like a Texas longhorn steer headset with the horn tips for the mics made of structured foam plastic attached to the headphones. Wearing them made you look like a reject from the Mickey Mouse club or a cheerleader at a football game. However, it was a fun project and the students learned a lot.
 
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anorlunda
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I owned a gadget 5-7 years ago that paired a phone with the hearing device. Tap a button and the phone app started running a hearing test, just like the audiologist test. When done it uploaded the results to the hearing device.

I considered a home brew microphone plus headphones rig because my hearing aids aren't loud enough. But after experimenting with TV headphones m i found that it must have a high pass filter. Otherwise it overloads my ears low frequency volume and causes pain. A simple passive filter might do the m job.

Expensive hearing aids claim to do nonlinear speech augmentation and background noise suppression but I am unable to independently verify their claims.
 
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Laroxe
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I remember watching a youtube review of some bluetooth earphones, they are a bit big but the reactions of the people trying them was interesting. I think this technology is developing so quickly it seems inevitable that this sort of thing will replace traditional aids. They are already getting to the size of some of the in ear aids and are getting an increasing number of features.

The digital technology is far better than simple amplifiers because they can be so fine tuned to the hearing loss and they do help particularly with speech. Age related hearing loss effects particular frequencies so selective amplification is far better, currently you could probably get away with in ear units which are virtually invisible but a bit expensive. I think wearing these headphones would get a bit irritating and selective amplification preserves your hearing better, you may only need one aid initially. Its also difficult to know how long any benefit will last from the headphones and cosmetically they seem a step backwards. Starting to use aids for the first time is an experience in itself you become aware of lots of new sounds.

I'm not sure about the FDA approval, that often seems simply a way to double the price because it becomes a medical device.
The video;
 
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The tuning issue with digital could be a problem as low power devices run at low frequency meaning there will be a potential processing delay.

I had that experience processing stereo mikes thru a raspberry pi. It was a proof of concept idea but it had a noticable echo effect.
 

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