Samsung developing hearing aid with model number SM-R790
Public docs suggest Samsung is working on a hearable entry called the Samsung Earcle, a non-prescription, wireless in-ear device for hands-free messaging, music playback and sound enhancement in hard to hear places. It appears also to be working on a prescription-only Samsung hearing aid, documents reveal …
“aNewDomain “— As the hype around so-called hearable technology continues to build, Samsung appears to be readying Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids and consumer-targeted hearables for U.S. release this year and next, according to sources close to the company and documents available in the public domain.
The wireless Bluetooth device will be capable of enhancing conversation and other sounds in various settings, such as in loud concert halls, noisy restaurants and muted conference rooms, the docs say. The Earcle would also provide some access to such smartphone functions as messaging and playing music, and it would function as a standalone wireless Bluetooth headset, too, they say.
A close examination of the FCC docs around the Earcle non-prescription hearable portrays a product that fits in pretty neatly among the some dozen hearable entries announced at CES 2016.
Scroll below to view all the FCC and Bluetooth docs we found that describe the Samsung Earcle and the Samsung Bluetooth Hearing Aid.
More than a dozen companies have announced hearables — in-ear devices capable of delivering some smartphone functions (like messaging, music playing and fitness monitoring) along with noise-cancellation and sound-enhancement functions via Bluetooth and built-in storage. The Bragi Dash, for instance, purports to offer music playback, messaging, fitness tracking, voice commands and other functions via two, independent ear pieces with no attachments. That firm recently announced that it’s working with hearing-aid maker Starkey. Apple, too, is believed to be working on both a hearing aid and a wireless “airpods” version of its EarPods, sources say, pointing to this trademark application, filed in September 2015.
The Samsung Earcle offering described in the FCC docs we’ve obtained doesn’t appear to be quite as ambitious, design-wise, as most of those efforts. Rather, its an independent earpieces (hearing aid) s that fit behind the ear and has wires that connect to a receiver (speaker) that fits in the ear canal.
This effort appears to be utterly distinct from Samsung efforts to build a Bluetooth hearing aid, as revealed by other public domain documents.
In the Earcle User (draft) manual it sent to the FCC in October, Samsung repeatedly underlines that the Earcle is not designed for hearing-impaired individuals.
Rather, it is “intended to supplement what you hear by amplifying ambient sound … and does not compensate for hearing loss or hearing difficulty.
The docs also contain a description of what Samsung has in mind for the Earcle. In the FCC application, Samsung writes:
The Earcle is … a personal sound amplification product (PSAP) to help you hear better. The Earcle amplifies the sound you hear and can also be used as a Bluetooth headphone. If you connect the Earcle to a mobile device via Bluetooth, you can answer calls and play music from the connected device. If you connect the Earcle to a mobile device via the Samsung Earcle app installed, you can configure the Earcle’s sound settings …”
However, just punching the device’s control button, located on the receiver, will let users access five preset audio enhancement settings, which are designed to help users hear better in five places: the car, in meeting rooms, in restaurants, outdoors and in concerts, according to the documentation. See the chart Samsung submitted to the FCC describing this, at left.
The Earcle’s hearing piece, or dome, is retractable and will be available in multiple sizes, the docs reveal.
You can read the whole set of Samsung FCC filings below.
In addition to the Earcle, Samsung also appears to be readying its so-called Samsung Bluetooth Hearing Aid. Find its applications to the Bluetooth SIG below, too.
Below is the draft documentation Samsung submitted for its planned hearable product, the Earcle. Scroll down for images, tech specs and other documentation describing the Earcle and the Samsung hearing aid in the public domain.
Here are the external photos of the Samsung Earcle, as submitted in the same application last year.
Below are the Samsung Earcle internal photos, as submitted by Samsung to the FCC in its application in 2015.
Here are the test setup photos Samsung submitted to the FCC for its Samsung Earcle application.
In addition to the non-prescription Earcle, Samsung appears also to be working on a low-power Bluetooth hearing aid. Below are the test results Samsung sent the FCC as part of its application.
Samsung has filed for patents under the hearing aid designation, USPTO records show. Here is a granted patent for “small hearing aid” technology.
Hearing Aids Make Use of Bluetooth Technology
The primary goal of hearing aids has always been to improve speech understanding. While this hasn’t changed, hearing aid manufacturers are now building Bluetooth technology into their most advanced hearing aid microchips to make speech from phones, televisions, and other devices more accessible to hearing aid users.
Made For iPhone (MFi) hearing aids, which rely on Bluetooth technology, first appeared on the market way back in 2014. The introduction of MFi ushered in a wireless revolution for hearing aid users, allowing – for the first time – a direct wireless connection between phone and hearing aid, and for many, the first clear mobile phone call with hearing loss.
Up until recently MFi has been the only option for hearing aid users wanting built-in Bluetooth technology. This meant no Bluetooth for Android users, and no direct connectivity to non-Apple devices. MFi hearing aids have also never offered true hands-free calling; having the mobile phone close by when speaking, or carrying a remote-microphone accessory, has been required.
Fortunately, there are now more options on the market, and with the release of the “Made For All” Phonak Audéo B-Direct late last year, Android users and hands-free callers with hearing loss have had their prayers answered. Here are the top three innovations that Phonak Audéo B-Direct has introduced to the market:
1. Hearing aids can now directly connect to any Bluetooth-enabled phone.
According to Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, director of business development and veterans affairs at Phonak, previous generations of hearing aids could only directly connect to an iPhone, which greatly limited people’s options.
“Pew Research Center found only 33 percent of American smartphone owners used an iPhone while a whopping 66 percent used the Android operating system,” said Thompson. “Another study showed 38 percent of all Americans over age 65 still use a classic flip phone. Until now, there has never been a Bluetooth hearing aid that was truly made for all devices and allowed universal connectivity — including the ability to directly connect to an iPhone, an Android device or even a classic flip phone that is Bluetooth-ready.”
2. Bluetooth hearing aids now offer truly hands-free calls.
Built-in microphones on Audéo B-Direct hearing aids feature automatic voice pickup, allowing people to have two-way conversations through their hearing aids. Thompson stated this is the first time this has ever been done with hearing aids.
“This is indeed the first time a hearing aid wearer can have a true hands-free conversation without having to touch the phone at all,” she said. “This is especially convenient in the car, where your phone may be in a pocket or purse, or if you need to have a conversation while leaving your phone on the table or countertop, for example if you’re cooking.”
3. Hearing aids stream wireless stereo sound directly from your TV.
According to research firm Statista, Americans spend an average of 4.5 hours per day watching TV. And if you have or live with someone who has hearing loss, you probably know that sometimes the volume of the TV can become an issue.
“With a card-sized TV Connector, hearing aid wearers simply plug the device into the back of the TV,” added Thompson. “The ‘plug and play’ TV Connector instantly pairs with the hearing aids, allowing viewers to stream high-fidelity TV-sound in stereo at their preferred volume level, independent of other viewers. Wearers have reported a markedly better experience in understanding dialogue, especially when the person on TV is talking fast.”
Phonak’s TV Connector is also useful for those looking for a portable audio streaming solution. The USB-powered device can stream audio from laptops, MP3 players, and any other device with a headphone jack. Optical audio output is also supported.
Bluetooth Meets the World of Hearing Aids
While device-agnostic Bluetooth-enabled hands-free calls are nothing new in the world of consumer electronics, these are true innovations for the world of hearing aids. And Audéo B-Direct is still very much a hearing aid. Unlike traditional Bluetooth earpieces, the Audéo B-Direct delivers the customizable amplification for Bluetooth audio streams (tailored to the wearer’s unique hearing profile), and runs on Phonak’s AutoSense OS™ platform, which delivers better speech understanding for one-on-one and group conversations, in a variety of listening environments.
To find a licensed hearing professional who has been trained to fit the Audéo B-Direct hearing aids, visit Phonak’s website.
The Over The Counter (OTC) hearing aid revolution has been developing rapidly over the past few years, and despite the objections put forth by the medical-model hearing aid industry and some Audiologist professional organizations, the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 is now officially the law of the land. While most original equipment manufacturers are waiting on the FDA to define the new OTC hearing aid product category, some innovations are already quietly brewing. Project Ears, announced earlier, is a perfect example of a technology fusion that will lead the way for OTC product developers.
Project Ears: Mimi Meets Bragi
The Mimi Hearing Test has been winning awards for its hearing checking app since at least 2015. Regarded as one of the best hearing checking apps (currently available on iOS and Android), the Mimi Hearing Test has now checked over one million ears. Up to this point, the Mimi Hearing Test has been used primarily for driving hearing enhancement for music through Mimi’s affiliated app Mimi Music app.
Through a cutting edge collaboration with Bragi, the developer of the intelligent wireless “hearable” Bragi Dash, it looks as though the Mimi Hearing Test will now do much more than simply enhance the music listening experience of those with hearing loss. Project Ears promises to both enhance general hearing and provide tinnitus relief through a Bragi Dash like product that uses Mimi’s hearing checking technology to drive individualized amplification of sound and tinnitus masking sounds:
Making use of our in-ear computing technology and deep understanding of human machine interaction, we aim to create the world’s first intelligent sound amplifier with an embedded scientific hearing test.
Here’s how Project Ears defines their planned tinnitus masking technology:
Embedded masking sounds help you relax and forget the ringing in your ears by covering the tinnitus while you can still hear your surroundings.
While Bragi is reportedly developing a Personal Sound Amplification Product (PSAP) to deliver these technologies, incorporating a hearing check and personalized amplification (intended to enhance hearing for those suffering from hearing loss) would probably put it more in the realm of a OTC hearing aid than a PSAP. According to current draft guidance from the FDA, PSAPs are not meant to help those with hearing loss:
PSAPs are intended to amplify environmental sound for non-hearing impaired consumers. They are intended to accentuate sounds in specific listening environments, rather than for everyday use in multiple listening situations. They are not intended to compensate for hearing impairment or to address listening situations that are typically associated with and indicative of hearing loss.
The OTC hearing aid vs PSAP distinction aside, the Project Ears announcement was largely predictable. Bragi and Starkey Hearing (a medical-model hearing aid manufacturer) announced a partnership to develop a custom-fitted version of the Dash (dubbed Dash Pro) way back in January 2016.
Starkey Promotes the Bragi Partnership in a Tweet
At the time of Starkey’s announcement, Hearing Tracker predicted that the Bragi association would eventually lead to hearing aid technologies being incorporated into Bragi’s hearable devices. While Project Ears makes no mention of Starkey, a recent quote from Jason Galster, Starkey’s senior manager of audiology research, says it all:
There will be a convergence between what we view as a hearing aid and what we view as a hearable
Check out the video below for Bragi’s teaser announcement of Project Ears.
Project Ears Press Release
Want to know more about Project Ears? Visit the Project Ears site, or read on for the official press release, received this morning via email:
Las Vegas, UNITED STATES (January 8, 2018) – Bragi (www.bragi.com), the Kickstarter-launched company behind The World’s First Smart Hearable will showcase the latest in hearable technology at CES 2018 from January 9-12.
This includes the introduction of Project Ears, a collaboration between Bragi and Mimi Hearing Technologies to develop sound amplification and hearing enhancement solutions throughout 2018.
Project Ears is already in development and will focus on Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAP) with on board soothing sounds that deliver the same design and feel of The Dash Series. Project Ears will examine the possibilities of personalized hearing enhancement in a multitude of different settings including the home, office, jobsite and even outdoor sport environments.
“When we introduced The Dash in 2015, one of the unexpected pieces of feedback was a group of consumers using the device’s internal storage to treat tinnitus through white noise” said Bragi Founder & CEO Nikolaj Hviid. “This led us down the path to review and develop capabilities of our in-ear computing technologies to potentially offer hearing enhancement services.”
One of Project Ears immediate development successes is the integration of a pure tone threshold test (a hearing test) that users can take on-board to create their unique Earprint. By combining this with Mimi’s personalization technology, the hearing device will automatically configure and program itself to the individual without the assistance of a smartphone or manual programing to deliver the best sound enhancement, tailored specifically to their personal Earprint.
Currently, Project Ears is an open-ended possibility with potential use cases that could range from and are not limited to, protecting your ears from dangerously loud noise and utilizing state of the art hearing technologies that amplify your surroundings selectively and intelligently. Bragi and Mimi Hearing Technologies are also looking forward to introducing Mimi’s personalization software to the Dash series to deliver the ultimate music experience to users.
Based in Germany, Mimi Hearing Technologies is the world’s leading expert on sound personalization and creators of the Mimi Hearing Test App, one of the most advanced hearing tests on the market and a certified medical product in Europe. Having tested over one-million ears to date, Mimi defines the future of hearing and sound, pioneering cutting-edge technologies and developing the global standard in sound personalization.
“We are delighted to welcome Bragi as a new Mimi partner.” said Dr. Henrik Matthies, Managing Director for Mimi Hearing Technologies. “With its first products Bragi has already caused quite a stir in the music and audio markets. Without a doubt, the integration of Mimi’s unique sound personalization technology into Bragi’s innovative audio concept opens up a new dimension to the users’ listening and hearing experience.”
Your comments are welcome.
Hearing loss can make conversations challenging. Often we rely on our conversation person to face us when they speak and provide us context before changing topics.
But communication is a two-way street. There are also many things we can do to enhance our ability to have successful and productive conversations with others. By following some simple rules of thumb, we can put ourselves in a better position to hear and communicate as best is possible.
Here are my tips. Please share yours in the comments.
1. Inform Others About Your Hearing Loss
Don’t be shy about disclosing your hearing loss. People cannot help you if they do not know you have difficulty understanding. I make a habit of announcing my hearing loss at the start of any group meetings or retreats. It is easy to do as part of the introductions. This way I get the information out and avoid any awkwardness later when I ask someone to repeat themselves or grab a seat in the front row so I can hear the speaker better.
2. Be Specific About Your Needs
Let others know what they can do to help you hear better. The more specific you are in your request, such as: I need you to sit on my left side or please face me when you speak to me — the more likely you are to get good results. Be prepared to remind people what they can do to help.
3. Put Others At Ease
If you appear comfortable with your hearing loss, others will be as well. Let people know that they can ask you about it. I often joke with people saying, “If you say something to me and I don’t answer, please don’t think I am rude, it is probably because I didn’t hear, or understand you.” Humor often makes people more forgiving and more willing to try again to engage you in conversation.
4. Stay Informed
Since context is so important in following conversations, try to stay abreast of current news and social happenings. It is easier to understand a new name (of a country or a celebrity) if you have seen it written about recently. This can be especially important if you are traveling to a different state or country.
5. Maintain Good Energy
Hearing may require extraordinary concentration for those with hearing loss so it is important to approach communication situations well rested and alert. Eat healthy food, exercise regularly, and be sure to get enough sleep. Also, don’t be afraid to take breaks from communication if you are getting tired.
6. Interrupt for Clarification In Moderation
If you miss a word or two of a story, listen a little bit longer before jumping in with “What?” You may be able to piece together what was said after another sentence or two. This does not apply at the doctor, or other important situation where full knowledge is imperative, but in social situations, not following every detail is probably OK some of the time. Also, when you ask for clarification, say what you think you heard to minimize what the speaker needs to repeat.
7. Use Non-Verbal Clues To Guide Your Communication Partner
Cupping your hand behind your ear is a good way to ask the speaker to raise his voice without interrupting the flow of the conversation. Leaning closer to the speaker can also indicate that you are having trouble hearing them.
8. Go With The Flow
Manage your expectations. In certain situations, understanding every word may not be not possible, but try to be grateful for what you can hear. Keep your sense of humor ready for the misunderstandings. Some of them can be quite funny if you let them.
If you have any suggestion, please leave them under comments.
Abram Bailey, AuD
The summary of his article is:
1) When different words are presented to both ears simultaneously, the left ear is, on average, at a slight disadvantage in speech recognition.
2) The average difference, or “right-ear advantage/ left-ear disadvantage (REA/LED),” is small, perhaps 3-5%, in young adults with normal hearing.
3) This REA/LED increases systematically as some persons age and develop hearing loss. The effect may be due to aging effects on the corpus callosum, the bridge between the two cerebral hemispheres.
4) When elderly persons with hearing loss are evaluated for possible use of amplification, some reject binaural fittings in favor of monaural amplification, suggesting the possible presence of binaural interference.
5) The favored fitting, in this case, is usually for the right ear.
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