Wear & Hear Products Receive Two Hearing Technology Innovator Awards
Top Honors Received by BeHear ACCESS in the Personal Listening Devices Category; Express Hearing Check Kiosk in the Equipment Category
It is this kind of exposure that will bring us closer to our goal of delivering a solution to the worldwide problem of untreated hearing loss.Dr. Alexander Goldin, CEO and Founder of Alango Technologies
October 19, 2020 – Alango Technologies announced today that it has been awarded 1st place for both Personal Listening Device and Equipment categories in the inaugural Hearing Technology Innovator Awards™.
Through the annual awards program, Hearing Health & Technology Matters (HHTM) recognizes technological innovation and achievement in the hearing industry. This year’s awards program saw dozens of innovative technologies, submitted from companies across the globe, with more than 15,000 votes cast.
Proceeds from the event helped raise over $4,000 for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).
BeHear ACCESS is a Personalizable Assistive Hearing Device
BeHear ACCESS is a stylish, affordable, multi-functional, self-managed hearing device for those with 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. Additionally, 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. Furthermore, two built-in a Telecoil receivers ensure best possible hearing in locales equipped with hearing loop technology.
What Makes BeHear ACCESS So Innovative?
By incorporating advanced sound enhancement technology into a Bluetooth stereo headset, the BeHear ACCESS from Alango – Wear & Hear provides a unique opportunity to those with hearing loss to improve their quality of life. Since 1 in 7 people worldwide have some level of hearing loss, which when left untreated can lead to poor performance at school and work, isolation, depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia, an innovative solution is critical. BeHear ACCESS eliminates the obstacles (such as high cost, stigma, unmet expectations, and reliance on others) which prevent widespread uptake of the current solutions addressing hearing loss.
Hearing Equipment Category Winner is a Hearing Self-Check Kiosk
With the Wear & Hear Express Hearing Check kiosk, visitors can check their hearing in a matter of minutes, using field-proven Alango BeHear technology, and get their results on the spot. Then, they can compare what they currently hear with what they could be hearing, with personalized amplification applied.
Upon completion of the assessment, a graphic depiction of the visitor’s hearing profile is displayed, with a brief explanation of the hearing abilities of each ear. Next, visitors are invited to listen to a pre-recorded audio file, choosing between two options: hearing it in its original state, or with the BeHear technology (and test results) applied to customize the sound for their hearing loss.
Currently, the kiosk is available in seven languages: English, Hebrew, Russian, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Arabic, and Dutch, and more will be added shortly.
What Makes the Express Hearing Check Kiosk So Innovative?
The Express Hearing Check kiosk provides immediate feedback to anyone willing to invest a few minutes to check their hearing. When used in ENT offices and hearing clinics, the kiosk can serve to relieve the bottleneck of performing hearing tests, since it requires no trained personnel for its operation.
Since hearing typically declines gradually, most people are not aware of their hearing loss, nor of what they are missing. Furthermore, hearing assessment is not typically included in standard physical check-ups. So, this quick, self-managed hearing assessment has the potential to greatly reduce the amount of time people live with untreated hearing loss (and its side effects: isolation, depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia).
The Express Hearing Check kiosk can be installed in public places, pharmacies, optical shops, ENT doctors’ waiting rooms, and elsewhere. Depending on the location, visitors can get a referral for an appointment, view information about assistive hearing products, or simply request to have their results sent to them via e-mail.
Setting the Standard for Innovation in the Hearing Industry
“Technologies being developed by companies like Alango – Wear & Hear are helping set the standard for innovation in the hearing industry,” said HHTM President and CEO, Kevin Liebe.
“We are pleased that our efforts to develop high-quality, affordable, multi-functional, self-fit assistive hearing solutions worldwide have been recognized by HHTM and their followers,” stated Dr. Alexander Goldin, CEO and Founder of Alango Technologies. “It is this kind of exposure that will bring us closer to our goal of delivering a solution to the worldwide problem of untreated hearing loss.”
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).
About the Hearing Technology Innovator Awards
The Hearing Technology Innovator Awards™ is an international awards program designed to recognize and celebrate innovation within the hearing industry. Learn more at https://hearinghealthmatters.org/hearing-technology-innovator-awards/
Assistive Technology Podcast Showcases Wear & Hear
We recently had the privilege of participating in a podcast organized by Josh Anderson of Easterseals Crossroads. That organization has been providing assistive technology solutions in Indiana since 1979. In 2007 Easter Seals Crossroads partnered with the State of Indiana Bureau of Rehabilitative Services to establish the Indiana Assistive Technology Act (INDATA) Project. The INDATA Project is one of 56 similar, federally-funded projects designed to increase awareness of and access to assistive technology. For more information, visit the INDATA Web site.
I love that you’re putting that technology in consumer devices so like you said, individuals can walk around in and use them and no one even knows.Josh Anderson, Assistive Technology Update
When we mentioned that one of our most important goals now is to inform those who could benefit from our products of their existence, Josh agreed that we need more exposure. He notes: “That’s always the biggest challenge it seems like in any kind of assistive technology is just finding out what there is out there for folks who have barriers and just don’t realize that there’s so many things out there to help them, so thank you for coming on the show and letting them know that your products are out there and available to help them with their needs.”
We’re grateful to Easterseals Crossroads and INDATA for the opportunity to share our assistive technology hearing products with their community in this podcast. We really appreciate their support in our mission to make the world sound better to everyone.
Listen to the podcast using this link, or read the transcript on this Web page.
Better Hearing is Now Within Reach – Part 3
This is the final installment of a 3-part series. If you haven’t yet read the earlier installments, you can read the first part here and the second part here.
How is this Concept Different from the Conventional Solutions?
Our first personal hearing product, released commercially in the Fall of 2018, is called BeHear® NOW. It is a stylish, comfortable, high-quality Bluetooth stereo neckband style headset that can be used to listen to music or make phone calls. In addition, it can be used to enhance ambient hearing, very similar to or better than hearing aids. Its retail price of $249 ( €249) makes it very attractive to a wide population.
What About Sound Quality?
BeHear NOW has four microphones, two in the earpieces and two in the control boxes. Using four microphones enables unprecedented sound quality for both ambient hearing and voice communication. The headset features two 13mm hi-fi speakers delivering uncompromised sound. It includes a large rechargeable battery allowing the wearer to use its ambient hearing amplification during an entire day without recharging.
The Difference is in the Sound Enhancing Software
BeHear NOW can be used as a standalone hearing amplifier, but its true value comes with its software. It pairs with a dedicated, free smartphone application called W&H BeHear for iPhones and Android that enables full control and self-adjustment of the headset. When the personal hearing mode is activated, the wearer can choose the most suitable preset (Indoors, Outdoors, Crowd or Live Music). S/He can change noise reduction settings from low to maximum depending on the environment.
Fine Tune the Device on Your Own
One of the problems with hearing aids today is that they require professional fitting in an audiologist’s office. Given the large number of people who suffer from hearing loss worldwide, it should be apparent that there are not enough audiologists on earth to provide hearing aids to everyone who needs one, especially in rural, distant areas. With BeHear NOW that is not an issue. Wearers can modify the spectrum of the sound they hear in real time by moving their finger on a grid to locate what we call the Best Sound Point. The Best Sound Point is a highly personal definition, depending on the wearer’s preferences, capabilities, and current location!
Furthermore, the W&H BeHear application contains a simple hearing assessment that anyone can perform and get immediate results. This is not a medical procedure, of course, but when completed, all BeHear NOW sounds will be modified to fit the wearer’s own personal hearing profile.
Advantages That People With Normal Hearing Will Also Appreciate
BeHear NOW also includes some advanced features that may be useful for people with normal hearing as well. For example, many people have trouble with fast speech. We all prefer that the other person speak slower when we need to write down a phone number, understand a foreign language, or are otherwise being distracted. BeHear NOW can do it automatically. When BeHear NOW is used to make or take a phone call, the wearer can activate a special mode called EasyListen™ to slow down speech and improve understanding. While listening to music, the wearer can activate ListenThrough™ technology. Nearby human voices, the noise of an approaching car and other important or alarming sounds will pass through while ambient noise will be blocked, allowing him/her to enjoy the music to the fullest.
Great Potential for Improving Quality of Life
The Wear & Hear line of assistive hearing products is highly innovative, leveraging two successful concepts (consumer electronics and sound technology advancements). The resulting solutions have the potential to improve quality of life for millions of people worldwide. As Helen Keller once famously remarked, when asked which sense was more important, vision or hearing: “Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people.” We want the world to sound better to all. With the aid of our personal hearing devices, people can reconnect socially, without the stigma or high cost of a medical hearing aid.
What’s Next? Feedback and Market Education
The first members of our Wear & Hear family of personal hearing devices are ready for purchase, here on our Web site, and through our international partner channel. However, the market needs educating. There are about 400 million people with disabling hearing loss who desperately need a solution, but they have no idea that there is a high-quality alternative to hearing aids. Our concept of affordable, stylish, multi-functional hearing enhancement solutions needs to capture the attention of both the hearing impaired and those who can help us bring them to market. Can you help?
Better Hearing is Now Within Reach – Part 2
This is the second installment of a 3-part series. If you haven’t yet read the first installment, you can read it here.
An Unorthodox Approach Brings Hope
The development trend for hearing aids throughout history has been to make the devices smaller and less noticeable. We, on the other hand, wanted to make our hearing enhancement devices stylish, and even fashionable. Instead of making them expensive medical devices, we wanted to make them affordable consumer electronics devices. In addition, we wanted our devices to be high performance and multi-functional. And finally, we wanted our devices to act as hearing protectors by reducing loud ambient noises to safe levels.
Consumer Electronics Can Serve a Wider Purpose
We chose a Bluetooth headset as a basic form factor for our hearing enhancement device concept due to its ubiquity. Its cost of goods is low and public acceptability is high. In order to transform it into a powerful hearing enhancement device we first investigated its existing components, and found:
- At least one microphone. In many Bluetooth headsets we can find a dual microphone, something relevant to high end hearing aids only.
- A high-quality speaker that is much better than that of hearing aids, due to their size limitations.
- A Digital Signal Processor that is 4-5 times more powerful than that of most of hearing aids.
- Bluetooth connectivity present only in the latest, greatest and most expensive hearing aids
- An environmentally friendly rechargeable battery
The Missing Component: Hearing Enhancement Software
That means that there is only one important piece missing to transform ANY Bluetooth headset into a powerful hearing enhancement device. This piece is software. Just do it, and you have exciting news for more than 1 billion hearing impaired people world-wide. Since we are a software sound processing company, we did it! We created a licensable software reference design that makes it possible to add hearing enhancement functionality to virtually any Bluetooth headset. We call our solution Hearphones™.
In order to be sure that our solution was good, and that it really could help hearing impaired people as well as or better than hearing aids, we decided to go one step further. We decided to create our own brand of concept products that we call Wear & Hear, with our slogan “Life Sounds Better”.
How Does this Approach Compare to Conventional Solutions?
In the next post in this “Hearing Better is Now Within Reach” blog series, we’ll compare this unorthodox approach with the conventional solutions.
Life Improving Innovations from Israel at CES 2017
The Consumer Electronics Show (“CES”) was held last week in Las Vegas. As one of the world’s leading technology tradeshows it typically draws more than 150,000 international attendees. CES is an excellent venue for the presentation and demonstration of new technologies, and Alango was proud to exhibit there again this year.
While many of the Israeli companies that participated in CES 2017 are inventing ways to improve day-to-day life, hearable technology from Alango known as HearPhones™ was included in the six life-improving innovations deserving special mention in an article published in the Jerusalem Post. Read the full article here.
Voice and Hearing Enhancement Technologies Demonstrated by Alango at CES 2017
Alango Technologies Ltd. (“Alango”), a leading provider of voice and audio enhancement technologies, is presenting selected digital voice and audio enhancement technologies as well as hearing enhancement concept products at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada, an international consumer electronics event.
Alango is demonstrating the following technology solutions this week at CES 2017:
- EasyListen™ – slows down incoming speech in real time thus improving intelligibility of fast talkers, foreign languages, and recorded messages.
- ListenThrough™ – a “smart algorithm” for headphones that allows enjoyment of the music while staying alert to important environmental sounds (e.g., alarm, horn, etc.)
- Voice Enhancement Package (VEP) – a set of software technologies including a multi-microphone beamforming array and echo canceller to enhance far-field speech pick-up and response to “barge-in” commands.
- HearPhones™ – a software reference design transforming a Bluetooth headset or “hearable” into a personal, self-tunable sound amplifier with assistive listening and other capabilities.
- Dual Microphone Smartwatch Speech Enhancement –specially designed to discriminate between speech and noise, even when the user speaks from varying distance/direction from his/her smartwatch.
- MuRefiner™ – a set of audio enhancement technologies that transforms a portable loudspeaker into a good quality soundbar speaker.
- Adaptive Directional Microphone Array – a backbone of voice enhancement for smartphones, tablets, Bluetooth® headsets, hands-free in-car communication and personal sound amplifiers.
Additionally, two concept products in Beta testing under the “Wear and Hear” brand (www.WearAndHear.com) from sister company Alango, Ltd. are featured in the stand: BeHear® and SALT™.
- BeHear is a neckband style Bluetooth headset with external microphones on each earbud enabling binaural hearing enhancement and ListenThrough awareness functionality.
- SALT (Smart Assistive Listening Transceiver) combines all HearPhones functionality with additional features utilizing four low-noise digital microphones, small loudspeaker, motion sensor, vibration motor and telecoil.
Dr. Alexander Golden, Alango founder and CEO, said: “We are pleased to return to CES this year with substantial advancements and additions to our technology portfolio. We remain firm believers that the hearables market is poised for growth, and toward this end have invested significant R&D in our HearPhones™ hearing enhancement technology, as demonstrated in our concept products BeHear and SALT. Our Voice Enhancement Package (“VEP”), which is used in conjunction with voice recognition software to pick-up far-field speech commands for smart home and smartphone use, is being demonstrated in our stand. Our aim is to license our software to organizations that share a common interest of bringing useful and sophisticated voice and audio solutions to the world.”
Visit the Alango stand from Jan. 5-8 at the CES 2017, Sands Expo, Booth 51036.
About Alango Technologies, Ltd.
Alango Technologies Ltd. is a leading developer and licensor of front-end DSP technologies for voice communication and mobile audio. Alango’s worldwide customers include companies of different scale covering a wide product range. Alango technologies can be found in in-car infotainment systems, after market hands-free car kits, navigation systems, mobile phones, Bluetooth headsets, audio conferencing systems, intercoms, assistive listening devices, security and military applications. Further information about Alango can be found at www.alango.com.
Hearing Aid Prices Under Pressure From Consumer Electronics
The consumer electronics industry is encroaching on the hearing aid business, offering products that are far less expensive and available without the involvement of audiologists or other professionals.
So writes Andrew Pollack in an article published on April 20, 2016 in the New York Times, following his visit to AudiologyNOW! 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. The article cites some of the latest trends in the struggle to address the needs of millions of Americans who suffer from hearing impairment but are not electing to purchase hearing aids.
Consumer electronics, such as those in the Wear & Hear line of hearing enhancement and assistive listening products, are poised to fill the void.
Read the full article for details.
Alexander Goldin, founder and chief executive of Alango Technologies, showing off the Smart Assistive Listening Transceiver (SALT) at the Audiology NOW! convention.
(photo credit: David Jolkovski for The New York Times)