Difficulty understanding rapid speech is one of the most common hearing complaints of older adults—including those with normal hearing. Rapid speech during phone calls adds additional difficulty, due to the lack of facial cues to aid in comprehension. EasyListen technology addresses the problem for mobile (cell) phone conversations, slowing down incoming speech and thus improving intelligibility.
What is EasyListen technology?
EasyListen technology is an Alango speech modification technology that is implemented in BeHear hearing amplification headsets. EasyListen enables BeHear users to slow down speech heard during mobile calls and while listening to voice messages without altering the natural feel of the conversation.
Why is EasyListen useful for people with hearing loss?
For people experiencing even mild hearing loss, EasyListen technology can be particularly helpful. Hearing degradation affects our ability to hear certain sounds that make up words, such as the letters and letter combinations f, s, sh, th, etc. In this case the brain needs extra time to determine what was said, based on overall context. In such cases, people often find themselves unduly tired without realizing that this is caused by the added strain and stress of trying to decipher words that have become unclear.
Hearing loss is not the only factor that increases the difficulty and subsequent time it takes for the brain to process what is being heard. In these cases, it is extremely convenient to be able to slow down the pace of “fast talkers” (read more here).
How does EasyListen technology work?
EasyListen is a type of audio “time stretching” technology. This type of speech modification technology is not new however EasyListen offers a more complex and intelligent standard for the dynamic real-time control of speech. Sophisticated speech analysis is performed, and only those parts that are important for understanding, but just too fast, are slowed down to the extent that is necessary.
This is how the speech is slowed down, without altering the natural feel of the conversation:
- Tones, noises, and other irrelevant sounds are not stretched.
- Not all parts of the speech are slowed down equally: vowels, plosives (consonants such as t, k, p, d, g, and b) and fricatives (consonants such as f and th) are not stretched in an equal manner. Some sounds that that do not require stretching (such as “aaaa”, “yee”, “mmm”) are not stretched at all.
- Checks and balances: Natural pauses occur in each typical conversation (such as when the speaker takes a breath). Shortening such pauses is used to reduce the delay that is generated by slowing down the audio signal. However, if the speaker talks fast continuously, with no pauses, EasyListen will gradually stop slowing down his/her monologue when the maximal allowed delay is exceeded.
Which languages can be slowed down by EasyListen?
EasyListen technology is language-independent and works equally well with Western and Eastern tonal languages. It can be activated during mobile (cell) phone calls only, not during live conversations or television/movie viewing.
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