Millions of people worldwide suffer from some level of hearing impairment, from minor to profound. Digital hearing aids can do wonders for helping people hear the sounds around them — and block out the ones that they don’t want to hear — but these remain expensive. Hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars apiece. However, a new solution may make hearing devices more affordable for a lot of people. In the world of photography, there’s a popular saying; “The best camera is the one you have with you.” The same may be true for hearing devices.
Fennex is a new company that is developing an app for the iPhone, and more precisely, for the wireless Apple AirPods. These earphones have motion sensors and digital microphones that include sophisticated beamforming technology to isolate a sound source in a noisy setting. Fennex is developing an app that will let users with hearing impairments control their AirPods to give maximum assistance. The app will boost volume and adjust the left/right balance, and change the bass, mid-range, and treble sounds to match your preferences. Fennex intends to deliver more, however. The app will filter different frequencies of sound to adjust to your individual hearing profile, will apply compression technology to amplify quiet sounds while limiting the volume of loud sounds. And it will take advantage of the beamforming to let you “direct” the listening focus to an individual location rather than pick up sounds from every direction.
At less than $160 a pair, AirPods cost far less than a pair of typical hearing aids. Even if you have to buy an iPhone to go with them, the system will still cost far less. And the fact that the rechargeable AirPods will run more than 24 hours between charges means that you can get all-day service from them. Oh, and you’ll still be able to listen to your music and take phone calls while wearing them. The Fennex app is still in development, but you can register to be a beta tester if you want a shot at helping the development process.