HEAR THIS! One company is leading the way in improving audio access for the hearing impaired
[Originally published in FeedMagazine.tv – Spring 2021]
You really want to hear that YouTube content – the life hack that’s going to change everything. But it was recorded badly, the publisher hasn’t mixed it well, and you just can’t hear exactly what your favourite guru is saying. You turn up your iPhone, but Apple has designed the loudness settings to keep you from shattering your eardrums. Then, of course, there are no video subtitles. So, you watch it at your desktop computer with the BIG SPEAKERS and see how that goes.
It’s really irritating when that happens. But if you’re hard of hearing, this is what a regular day on the internet can be like. Fortunately, there are hearing assistive devices making content more accessible.
Audio communications company, Alango Technologies, is headquartered in Haifa, Israel, and has turned its focus to technologies improving access for the hearing impaired. The company’s BeHear ACCESS assistive hearing device was an honouree at the 2020 CES Innovation Awards. Their philosophy is that hearing impairment is a more universal phenomenon than most people readily admit, and use of hearing assistive technology should be as common as getting glasses.
Accessing audio isn’t entirely a matter of loudness or frequency enhancement. Sometimes the speed of speech makes it difficult to understand for people with age-related hearing loss, but also those with cognitive disabilities or language barriers. Even those who need extra time to write down information as they hear it.
One of Alango’s technologies, EasyListen, slows down incoming speech in real time.
“People with a hearing disability have difficulties listening to fast talkers and, eventually, at some age, all talkers seem fast,” explains Alango founder and CEO, Dr Alexander Goldin. “We can slow down speech and make it more intelligible. It’s a unique technology you cannot find today, even in expensive hearing aids.” BeHear ACCESS was designed for older people, who may have dexterity problems, with large buttons and simple controls.
The company’s EasyWatch technology allows viewers to understand fast talkers on TV, movies and streaming video by dynamically and selectively slowing down both the audio and video streams.
“One problem with hearing loss is that many people are not aware of having it,” says Goldin. “It takes, on average, seven years from the onset of the problem to the point where people become aware. And another three years when they start actually looking for help.”
To shorten this time, Alango has developed a hearing assessment kiosk, which can be put in waiting rooms or pharmacies to assess hearing – then provide customised audio feedback to give people an experience of what they are missing.
“Becoming aware of the problem is not enough to look for help. You need to know what you are missing. Hearing isn’t like vision – I can immediately understand that I can’t read a book or see a traffic sign. But if I don’t hear birds outside, they simply don’t exist for me. At our kiosk, we play video clips and allow people to switch the hearing amplification on and off.”
Getting the right solution in compensating for hearing loss isn’t just a matter of increasing loudness. Most gradual hearing loss is selective along specific frequencies. Increasing loudness brings up other frequencies, which may allow a person to fill in the gaps of what they are not hearing, but those missing frequencies are still likely to remain vacant. Alango uses a technology called multi-channel dynamic range processing. This takes into account all parts of the auditory system and tries to make up for it using the frequencies a person is still able to hear.
“Hearing loss cannot be compensated for completely. But we’re trying to get as close as possible.”
Alango’s technologies are designed for TVs and technologies people use every day. They have begun conversations with tech manufacturers about how to best integrate these new assistive features more widely.
Given the capabilities of most modern devices, we may eventually see smart devices taking into account that the ability to access video and audio is less consistent than we assume. A device integrated with its own hearing assessments – and automatic compensation for it – could be just around the corner.
PEOPLE WITH A HEARING DISABILITY HAVE DIFFICULTIES LISTENING TO FAST TALKERS AND, EVENTUALLY, AT SOME AGE, ALL TALKERS SEEM FAST
View the original article at https://online.bright-publishing.com/view/528237499/68/
Alango – Wear & Hear Products Win Top Honors in NPTA Program
9th Annual New Product & Technology Awards (NPTA) Program Recognizes Two Wear & Hear Products
Haifa, Israel – December 28, 2020 – Alango – Wear & Hear was a two-time winner in the 2020 New Product & Technology Awards. The BeHear ACCESS assistive hearing headset received a Gold Award in the Communication Devices category, and the BeHear PROXY assistive hearing neck speaker received a Gold Award in the Lifestyle Assistive Devices category. The program, presented by the Mature Market Resource CenterSM, a national clearinghouse for the senior market, is the first awards program of its kind to recognize the most innovative products & services for older adults and their families.
BeHear ACCESS Assistive Hearing Headset Recognized in the Communication Devices Category; BeHear PROXY in the Lifestyle Assistive Devices Category
“We are pleased that our efforts to develop life-changing, high-quality, affordable, multi-functional, self-fit hearing solutions have been recognized in the 9th annual New Product & Technology Awards program this year,” stated Dr. Alexander Goldin, CEO and Founder of Alango Technologies. “Many aspects of physical, emotional and even mental health are impacted by the ability to hear. For us, these are more than products, they are a gateway to quality of life, health and wellness for those who have lost them due to problems with their auditory system.”
Entries were judged by a distinguished panel of mature market experts from across the United States for overall excellence of design, content, creativity and relevance to the senior market.
BeHear ACCESS is a Personalizable Assistive Hearing Device
BeHear ACCESS is a stylish, affordable, multi-functional, self-managed hearing enhancement device for mild-to-moderately-severe hearing loss. Housed in a high-quality Bluetooth stereo headset, it features advanced technology for personalized amplification of important sounds, based on a self-administered hearing assessment. The headset can be customized in real-time to suit all types of hearing situations: live conversations, mobile calls, music streaming, TV watching, sounds in nature, and more. Two built-in Telecoil receivers ensure best possible hearing in locales equipped with hearing loop technology.
BeHear PROXY Makes TV Watching Enjoyable Again
BeHear PROXY is a self-fit hearing amplifier that looks (and functions) like a standard Bluetooth stereo neck speaker, providing a rich listening experience for television watching, gaming, and music streaming. With the help of its extractable earphones and a dedicated smartphone app, it also provides personalizable amplification for live conversations and hands-free mobile calls. Together with the HearLink® PLUS Bluetooth audio transmitter it provides unmatched accessibility and improved language comprehension for television programs, with perfect audio-video synchronization. It is suitable for use with or without hearing aids.
About Alango Technologies
Alango Technologies, Ltd. (www.alango.com) has been developing sound enhancement technologies since 2002, selling over 50 million software licenses that improve the audio experience in automotive, entertainment, and smart home applications around the world. Realizing the importance and opportunity of combining the sound enhancement technology found in hearing aids with the advances and costs in the consumer electronics world, the Company is now using its field-proven expertise in sound technology to create products for personal hearing enhancement: the “Wear & Hear” product line (www.WearAndHear.com).
BeHear, HearLink, and Wear & Hear are registered trademarks of Alango Technologies, Ltd. in the United States. All other trademarks are the property of their respective holders.