Monthly Archives: June 2015

Now Hear This

Advances in circuitry and Bluetooth have made hearing-aid alternatives cheaper and more powerful 

One night in June 2010, New York composer Richard Einhorn went to bed in a motel feeling stuffy and woke up almost completely deaf. At the time, Einhorn, who wrote the oratorio Voices of Light, had limited ways to deal with his nightmare condition, known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss. He visited an audiologist and bought a hearing aid for $3,000. (His insurance plan, like most, didn’t cover it). Unhappy with the expense and the limits of the earpiece’s technology, which struggled to adapt to different noise levels, Einhorn began searching for alternative gadgets that could restore more of his hearing for less money.

Today, he has a backpack full of them. To supplement his old-school hearing aid, he favours a $350 iPhone-linked earpiece made by Sound World Solutions, a hearing-h ardware maker in Illinois, for whom he’s begun to consult. With the Sound World device on, he can amplify phone calls and streaming music as well as his surroundings. A third, $500 earpiece was custom-made by Ultimate Ears in California, to help him detect a wider range of musical tones while composing. For restaurants and theatres, he has a $45 directional microphone that pairs with a $5 app to isolate desired voices. And for especially cacophonous places, he has spare $700 microphones, made by Etymotic Research in Illinois, that he can strap to companions.

Einhorn credits the audio patchwork with saving his career and his life. “It’s incredible”, he says over lunch in a busy restaurant, as he toggles the proper setting on his phone.

The Bluetooth-connected earpieces aren’t classified as hearing aids by the US Food and Drug Administration. They’re called personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs. Basic versions of such devices have existed for more than a decade in lonely RadioShack aisles and a handful of other places. But in the past 18 months, advances in circuitry and low-energy Bluetooth transmission have helped developers radically improve the designs to make high-quality, long-lasting alternatives to hearing aids while keeping prices at a fraction of the industry standard.

Whatever regulators or insurers call them, PSAP manufacturers are angling to expand the $6 billion global market for hearing technology. Largely due to the cost, 75 per cent of the 34 million Americans with hearing loss don’t use aids, says David Kirkwood, the editor of industry blog Hearing Health Technology Matters. “A lot of people will continue to pay for traditional hearing aids,” he says. “But there are now inexpensive, easy-to-get alternatives.”

Part of the reason PSAPs are cheap is that they’re unregulated. Hearing aid fittings and audiological calibrations account for much of the cost of aids from the big six makers—Siemens, Sonova, Starkey Hearing Technologies, William Demant, GN ReSound, and Widex. A midlevel pair that retails for $4,400 costs about $440 to manufacture, according to AARP. Research and development spending is also a factor: Unlike the free Bluetooth standard used by upstarts such as Sound World, oldschool hearing aids run on proprietary signal processing and transmission technology. Siemens, Sonova, and Widex declined to comment; GN ReSound, Starkey, and William Demant didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Still, being kept out of doctors’ offices has been a huge problem for PSAP makers, says Venkat Rajan, who tracks medical devices for researcher Frost Sullivan. While the size of the market can be difficult to gauge given the lack of regulation, anecdotal evidence suggests sales have been soft, he says. It doesn’t help that, according to industry journal the Hearing Review, the average American buying a hearing aid is 71 years old. “Trying to find that customer base has been difficult,” Rajan says.

The origin of this article can be found here, why are hearing aids so expensive, it is a old technology! In 2011 10 million people had hearing loss and it’s expected that 14 and a half people will be suffering. This is a market that is being exploited.

How Do Passive Noise Cancelling Headphones Work

It is quite unfortunate that for most music lovers, there is a myriad of ambient noises and sounds that can really interfere with the music coming from your earphones, Now, if you have ever once tried to listen to music on a bus, train or airplane, then you are intimately familiar with this problem. The engine’s roar and/or the incessant chatter from fellow passengers, make extremely hard to hear the sounds coming from your speakers, even if they are on or inside your ear. Fortunately, to combat this dilemma, innovators have come up with far more enjoyable way of listening to your music- Noise canceling headphones of which there are two types:

– the active- the passive types.

HOW PASSIVE NOISE CANCELLATION WORKS

The simplest type of noise cancellation is the passive noise reduction, sometimes called noise isolation. From a technical perspective, just about any kind of earphones are able to provide some degree of passive noise reduction (though some are designed for it more than others). This is mostly as a result of the materials used to make the headphones which block out particular sound waves, mostly those of a higher frequency. The absolute best type of passive noise canceling headphones are however the circum-aural types which are specifically engineered to maximize the amount of noise it filters. We will take a look at this some more in a bit. Essentially, where passive noise isolation, the head phones are so designed that they will fit snugly into or around each ear. This makes it significantly harder for noise to escape and bother others in your immediate environment, and it also prevents the noise in your environment from making it hard for you to listen to your music. Passive noise cancellation earphones tend to have very large ear pieces, with large pieces of foam wrapped around them. You need to squeeze the foam into your ear which them provides a perfect seal for the ear canal, or they fit just right around your ear.

All this is saying that passive noise cancelling earphones in essence imitate what happens when you choose to cover your ears with your hands or put some ear plugs in. The excess padding is always done with materials that naturally act as sound barriers- fitting into your ear and sealing off the ambient noise.

Supra-aural headphones, which are earphones placed over and around the ear, instead of in or around it, are probably the very worst at any form of sound cancellation. They tend to be low density, small and very light, as such there is really not much padding to block and outside sound or ambient noise from entering the ear. Furthermore, because they are only placed on the ear, there is a great deal of space for any external noise to travel around them and into the ear canal. It is on very rare occasions that you actually find a top quality supra-aural earphone, because they are simply unable to provide the kind of noise cancellation that circumaural or in ear headphones provide. Supra-aural earphones are lightly manufactured and as such are usually marketed for customers who are not particularly focused on headphone quality, but mostly looking for basic functionality.

Take for instance, most desktop or video game headsets tend to be supra-aural. They are mostly preferred because they are light and as such are suitable for the long, extended hours they will be used. Additionally, in cases like these audio quality is not of great importance since it they are mostly used for spoken communication, where clarity is the focus and nothing else really matters.

When it comes to passive noise cancelling headphones, circumaural or around the ear headphones provide a significantly better noise cancellation quality. They are bigger in size and as such they include more noise reduction material. This in turn creates a far better buffer against outside noise- think beats headphones. Essentially this means that they are heavily packed with layers of high top quality high density foam,, or some other sound absorbing material. Admittedly, this then makes them a bit heavier than the average headphones, but since they completely block the ear off, they keep out up to 95% of outside noise. Well, this is assuming that the circumaural earphones you choose, fit your ears snugly. If they are either poorly designed or not the perfect fit then ambient noise will still be able to make its way in.

Are Your Headphones Causing Your Acne?

We all take reasonable care of our stuff, particularly when we wear it, we wash our clothes regularly, we shower, more than twice a week! but when was the last time you cleaned your headphones? they might not look dirty, or do they? this article seemingly does.

Headphones are a necessity for the modern music-lover or phone user but your gadgets could also be taking a negative toll on your skin.

Some things in life never seem to last as long as we want them to: Your last paycheck, free cookies, or (perhaps most disappointing of all), clear skin are all relatable examples. Sure, we know that there are tons of prescribed, over-the-counter, and even some go-to natural ingredients that can treat an annoying blemish in a flash, but wouldn’t it be less frustrating to know why our pimples are, well, popping up in the first place?

While genetics and hormones play a huge role, there are certain sneaky, everyday habits that could be irritating your skin too. Like coveting those beloved gadgets of yours.

For instance, think about how your headphones go everywhere with you—school, work, the subway, the gym—and you slide them on without giving it a second thought. Cranking up the music is totally therapeutic (and yes, great for drowning out an annoying sibling), but it turns out if you’re seeing spots on your temples and jaw line, the headphones you use for your daily jam sessions to Taylor Swift might be the culprit for recurring breakouts.

“Wearing over-the-ear headphones is a perfect setup for causing an increase of acne breakouts and skin infections,” says dermatologist and Simple advisory board member Dr. Debra Luftman. “This is especially the case when you wear them during and after a workout, or if you keep them on for long periods of time. Sweat and moisture collect on and around the headphones, compressing the skin and therefore encouraging bacteria and yeast to multiply.” Gross, but true.

Luckily, a blemish-free complexion doesn’t mean retiring your giant pair of Beats or new Frends headphones for good. To keep them gunk-free, Dr. Luftman recommends giving them a daily rubdown with a makeup remover wipe. (Simple’s Cleansing Facial Wipes are so easy to toss in your bag!) Then, remember to use another wipe to clean the areas around your ears, hairline, and jaw before the next time you toss your headphones on again.

If you find that your headphones get discolored or grimy particularly often, you can also keep a stash of anti-bacterial cloths handy in your purse or backpack. Feel free to pick these up during your next drugstore run. Just be sure to let the earphones dry completely before using them again. The same bacteria that develops from sweat and moisture, can build up from any dampness that stems from your cleansing tools. Come on, putting whatever you’re listening to on pause for 10 minutes isn’t too much to ask now, is it?

Dealing with acne is never fun, but preventing it with these simple tips is music to our ears—literally!

Would you wear sunglasses that double as headphones?

Google Glass may be on hiatus, but our appetite for high-tech spectacles endures. One of the latest efforts comes in the form of a Kickstarter campaign for a pair of sunglasses that double as wireless headphones.

Buhel’s Bluetooth SG05 SOUNDglasses obliterated their $80,000 fundraising goal a mere 48 hours after launch, ending up with more than $400,000 by the end of the campaign. “SOUNDglasses give you innovation, freedom, safety, and easier life,” Buhel promises.

Great, but how will the music sound?

Thanks to “bone conduction technology,” SOUNDglasses let users listen to music, conduct a phone conversation, or talk to computerized personal assistants like Siri without the “impediment” of earphones. Two speakers situated in the glasses near the wearer’s temples send vibrations through the bones of the head and into the inner ear. A built-in microphone picks up what the wearer says.

This isn’t exactly revolutionary. Many hearing aids transmit sound with bone conduction, as do other headphone brands. But a main complaint for these kinds of headphones is that the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. Will these be any different?

Here’s how the creators of SOUNDglasses address that question: “We don’t pretend that Bone Conduction is your perfect HiFi music companion, but we can say that it serves a specific purpose, which increases your safety in an infinite number of situations. The military and Google chose Bone Conduction for some of their devices…They must have thought it was not that bad, and so did nature with dolphins and whales.”

Hmm. Not the most reassuring comment, is it?

Buhel is pushing the safety angle hard to make up for any lousy sound quality. Because nothing has to actually go inside the ear for this technology to work, wearers will still be able to hear the sounds going on around them. This is a plus for what seems to be Buhel’s target demographic: athletes. It would be great to be able to bike down the busy avenues of Manhattan blasting some excellent riding tunes without losing access to one of your most vital senses.

Another problem: using these headphone-less glasses to have a phone conservation could produce some funny looks from passersby. To convince people to accept this kind of public embarrassment, any headphone-glasses combo will have to be excellent in every other way. Sound quality is important, but equally essential is style.

The SOUNDglasses come in a variety of colors and lens shades, and from the outside seem no different from your average sporty shades. This is rule number one for smart glasses: they have to be something you actually want to wear in public. Google found this out the hard way. Not even its own developers wanted to wear the goofy-looking face computer. Of course, SOUNDglasses don’t actually project any visual effects into a wearer’s line of sight, which probably eliminates some of the encumbering hardware that could inhibit a sleek design.

What would make these glasses better is if they came in a variety of frame styles. Right now, the only design on offer looks best on athletes and outdoor explorers, but doesn’t have much fashionable appeal otherwise. Google Glass got a trendy redesign to provide some fancy frame options because it knew it needed to look less geeky if it wanted to be worn by anyone other than, you know, geeks. The same goes for SOUNDglasses, especially if it wants to catch on with anyone other than athletes.

The first shipment of glasses to Kickstarter backers is slated for May of 2015. If you want to wait for the first reviews to roll in before buying, they will retail for “more than $270” later in the summer.

Well if you had said to us, how about a sunglasses/headset mash-up we would have thought you were mad! but this kickstarter, using bone conductive technology, too which we have lots of knowledge about, We’re looking forward to receiving our pair when they are dispatched. This article was originally posted on this site.

Earphones and headphones market – global industry analysis and opportunity assessment 2014 – 2020 scrutinized in new research

We have seen a huge demand for headset and headphones over the last few years, helped by the emergence of luxury brands like Dr Dre beats range. You can find the original article on this website.

The demand in the region is lead by the countries such as China, India, South Korea, and Japan. Latin America is also expected to experience significant growth of earphones and headphones market driven by growing number of portable devices in the region.

Portable music systems such as smartphones, tablets, and portable music players are experiencing significant growth in demand and this in turn is driving the growth of earphones and headphones market. The global market for headphones and earphones is anticipated to experience considerable growth over the coming years.

In the recent years, the technological advancements in headphones have led to minimization of the overall weight of the headphone. Additionally, sophisticated noise cancellation features in earphones and headphones have been aiding in the rising popularity of these devices.

Major technological developments in wireless such as Wi-Fi, Infrared (IR), SKAA and Bluetooth are expected to continue driving the growth of earphone and headphones market.

Shifting consumer trends toward the adoption of headphones/earphones during working out is also giving a push to the growth of this market. Moreover, companies are targeting youth through introduction of new and innovative features.

The increasing availability of low cost counterfeit products poses a significant challenge to the growth of earphones and headphones market.

In the Asian countries such as China, India, Taiwan and Indonesia, there is a significantly large unorganized market for earphones and headphones.

This unorganized market often sells counterfeit and low standard products at a significantly lower cost poses a serious challenge to the organized players in terms of revenue and demand. Addition of features such as voice recognition represents a significant future growth opportunity in this market.

Based on product types, the headphone and earphone market includes wireless speakers, wireless headphones, and microphones. The headphones can be further categorized into in-ear buds, gaming headphones, over-ear headphones, wireless headphones, and clip-on headphones.

North America has been the leading market for earphones and headphones owing to significantly large penetration of portable devices. Further, the region also has significant demand for high end earphone and headphone products leading to higher revenue generation.

Asia Pacific is anticipated to be the fastest growing market for earphones/headphones owing to boom in the portable/mobile devices market in the recent years. The region is experiencing rapid growth in demand for smartphones which is driven by increase in disposable income of a significantly large population.

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