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/
World Hearing Day: March 3
This year’s theme is “Hearing for life: Don’t let hearing loss limit you”
Every year on March 3, WHO, the health agency of the United Nations, engages organizations in World Hearing Day public awareness activities. This year’s theme, “Hearing for life: Don’t let hearing loss limit you,” highlights the importance of hearing loss prevention and timely and effective interventions for those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
We at Alango – Wear & Hear are pleased to join in this effort. Read the full article from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders by clicking this link. Learn more about age-related hearing loss by clicking this link. Do something about your own hearing loss by trying out our affordable, personalizable, stylish, multi-functional hearing amplification products using the 30-day “Buy & Try” policy in our Web store.
Alango Founder Describes His Vision for Better Hearing
What inspired a computer engineer with expertise in sound enhancement to tackle the “silent epidemic” of untreated hearing loss?
Dr. Alexander Goldin, the Founder and CEO of Alango Technologies, was recently interviewed by Tyler Gallagher of Authority Magazine. The following is an excerpt from the full article, which is posted on both Medium.com and Thrive Global.
Dr. Goldin states: Here is a sad statistic from World Health Organization: in 2001, roughly when I started analyzing the situation, there were 250 million people worldwide with disabling hearing loss. Today, this number has increased to 466 million. And, it is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss.
If we provide an affordable, self-administered solution to hearing loss, we will help children to succeed more in learning, adults to be more efficient at work, and the elderly to stay active and connected to other people. We will reduce the huge cost of unaddressed hearing loss and use that money to make other aspects of human life better, I hope.Dr. Alexander Goldin, Founder & CEO at Alango Technologies
When asked What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption? Dr. Goldin responded:
“When people are asked about hearing loss and a treatment for it, they will answer “hearing aids” even though, as I mentioned earlier, worldwide adoption rates for hearing aids are incredibly low. We at Alango Technologies are creating a new category of hearing enhancement devices that are affordable, versatile, stylish, and self-tunable. Unfortunately, most hearing-impaired users are not aware of this option. We need to inform them. And, after people hear about something new, it takes them a long time to start believing in it. We need to shorten this process and that is where we need help. I hope this interview will give us such help.
Bottom line: Won’t you help us in our efforts to get the word out? Share this article, or simply mention to someone who could benefit that affordable, versatile, stylish, and self-tunable hearing enhancement devices exist today. It’s bound to be life-changing.
Do You Think Your Hearing is Fine?
If you are between the ages of 20 and 69 – you probably suffer from hearing loss. But there is good news – you can check it by yourself and do something about it.
If you think your hearing is fine, think again. A federal study reports that about a quarter of the people between the ages of 20 and 69 who think their hearing is “good” or “excellent” are in fact showing signs of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is often attributed to noisy work environments, or to aging. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 24 percent of hearing loss is due to loud workplaces.
What surprised us was we found many people with evidence of noise-induced hearing damage who don’t have noisy jobs, who got that damage from their home or community.Dr. Ann Schuchat, acting director of the CDC
Loud noises – from sirens to lawnmowers and rock concerts to sporting events – can permanently damage hearing. That damage builds up over time, and once it’s lost, it’s lost forever.
The study finds that the loss often starts early in life. Approximately 20 percent of Americans in their 20s have lost some ability to hear the softest sounds. The effect is much more pronounced in men than in women. And a quarter of people who have lost some hearing don’t even know it.
Hearing loss is especially problematic for older adults, who can find themselves socially isolated when they can’t hear what people around them are saying.
The CDC also notes that chronic exposure to noise has been associated with increased stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, distractability, and annoyance.
Bottom line: It’s best not to assume that your hearing is fine. The good news is it’s very simple to check it by yourself. There is a built-in hearing assessment in the BeHear NOW personalizable hearing amplifier (which also looks and functions just like a Bluetooth headset). With our 30-day “Buy & Try” return policy, you have nothing to lose. And with our upcoming “Black Friday” special offers there is no time like the present to do something about it!