Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hearing Aid? No, Soundhawk Is an Ear Wearable

It Looks Like a Bluetooth Earpiece, But It’s for Talking to the People in Front of You

A new device called Soundhawk offers help to people who sometimes find it hard to hear but aren't ready for a $3,000 hearing aid. Personal Tech columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler tests it out.
There’s a certain agony to walking into a restaurant and realizing you won’t be able to hear a conversation over the clatter.

But for many people there’s one thing even worse: wearing a hearing aid.

The term conjures up frailty and the inevitability of old age. Up to 98 million Americans say they struggle with hearing loss, yet only 8 million or so wear traditional hearing aids. That leaves many millions who cope by reading lips or coaxing everyone else to speak up.

A new gadget called the Soundhawk Smart Listening System offers help to people who know they have a hearing problem but don’t think they need a $3,000 prescription hearing aid. The $300 Soundhawk isn’t a medical device—it’s app-controlled ear gear for when you could use a little audio enhancement.

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