Hearables – wearable communication devices that have the potential to be used in the management of hearing loss (Image courtesy of Bragi).

Any technology or group of technologies that work in combination with each other to enhance an individual’s hearing ability is known as a Hearable. They are usually worn in or around the ear and are part of a wider group of wearable technologies known as Wearables. When worn, they can monitor and log information about the body (biometric data) and location, which can then be uploaded online, visualised and shared via social media.

Relatively new to the marketplace, Hearables when worn can perform a range of communication-related tasks involving the sense of hearing, such as listening to music, providing wireless smartphone access and voice-recognition access to the internet. By providing better access to a person’s hearing, Hearables reduce the reliance on  handheld devices, screens and to perform other physical tasks to access portable technologies. They also have an application in the health and well-being arena when used in combination other Wearables that create and combine biometric data.

Hearables & Hearing Loss

Being adaptable and sophisticated devices that access and utilise a user’s hearing abilities, Hearables have the potential to be used in the management of hearing loss in a similar way that Hearing Aids currently do.

By having high-quality microphones and speakers, they could be used to modify the sounds produced by the device to help compensate for an individual’s unique hearing loss. This includes having the ability to hear certain frequencies more clearly, being able to locate and hear specific sounds in a noisy room, and cancel out certain types of noise that can cause hearing loss.

Like Hearing Aids, Hearables can also provide access to other Assistive Listening Devices and audio devices such as smart phones, TVs, computers, telecoils and FM loops.

Hearables are likely to expand the range of technology types that now can be used to manage hearing loss. They have also introduced new technology providers into the hearing technology space that include the tech giants Apple and Samsung.

The adaptable, evolving and fashionable nature of Hearables coupled with their ability to integrate and multiple technologies may also help reduce the social stigma associated with hearing loss.