Show Details

Hearing Glasses

May 18, 2006

An innovative new hearing aid is embedded in an unlikely place.


Eyeglasses for your ears. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

[SFX: conversation ambience]

A conventional hearing aid, in a noisy room like this:

[ambience, low volume]

…can sound like this:

[same ambience, high volume]

…which isn’t much help when you’re following a conversation. That’s why researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have developed a new hearing aid that amplifies nearby sounds, but suppresses background noise. Acoustic scientist Riinus Boone says the system uses four microphones spaced out over three inches. That’s too big to cram in your ear, so Boone’s team installed them in the earpieces of eyeglasses.

RIINUS BOONE (Delft University of Technology, Netherlands):
You can hide the microphones there; nobody sees that you are wearing a hearing aid with a huge microphone. And that’s why we decided to do that.

The hearing glasses are available now in the Netherlands, with international distribution on the horizon. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.