From Mr. Pan’s discovery ...
The inventor, Mr. Pan is a 65 years old retiree who is continuing to do some small businesses to pass his time. However, he realizes that as he aged, his hearing begin to fail him and he can no longer communicate effectively with his business associates. Despite having a customized digitized hearing aid, he faced a lot of difficulties communicating with people.
Instances of the difficulties he faced:
In restaurants, on top of the voices of his friends sitting on the same table, background music and noise of the surrounding environment were captured and amplified by his customized hearing aid as well. This caused lots of loud noises in the hearing aid and he was unable to hear and communicate with any of his friends. This irritate him and he finds no possible way to solve these problems.
In spacious areas such as the airport boarding area where a lot of echo is produced in his hearing aid. A lot of sounds coming from different sources (public announcement system, different sounds people produced, background music, etc.) are all amplified. As a result he misses important flight announcements.
(Echo results from reflection of sound off the distant walls and its ultimate return to your ear. If the sound wave takes more than 0.1 seconds to reflect and return to your ear and there will be a small time delay between the perception of the original sound and the perception of the reflected sound. Thus, we call the perception of the reflected sound wave an echo.)
When watching TV at home, he tends to tune the volume so loud that his family find it too loud for them and leave him to watch alone. As a result, he gradually lost connection and interaction with his family.
In social activities, he feels himself drifting apart from other people and out of place as he cannot hear clearly and cannot participate in conversations. Gradually, he isolates himself from his friends and stays away from the crowd.
Even though he has a pair of customized US$3,330 hearing aid, it does not work well in environment with a lot of different noises (e.g. many different people talking at the same time, different sound sources) as the hearing aid amplified all sounds causing him to cannot hear clearly what he intends to hear.
With all the deficiencies of his hearing aid, he rarely use it. However, when the need to hear clearly arises, the batteries are often drained and the spares are not convenient and cheap to get. The hearing aid also needs regular maintenance and often malfunction due to the sweat which results in costly repairs and time consuming efforts. All these challenges basically turn the hearing aid into a white elephant and defeat the purpose of having one.
One day, he realized that he has been unconsciously cupping his ears and will face the talking party whenever he need to hear from him/her. This action of cupping one’s ears to hear better can be seen in all people.
The intuitive nature of cupping the ears to hear better sparked off an idea. Because it is not practical to constantly use our hands to cup the ears, he thought of having something like a headphone which can concentrate sound at a focal point.
He produced a simple prototype by taking his wife bra, cut it into half, filled the inner part with silicon, sew it to a headphone frame and made use of elastic bands for securing.
He soon realized that this simple prototype formed by bits and pieces here and there is comparable to his expensive hearing aid in terms of meeting his hearing needs.
We then became curious and interested on EAR逸耳 as to how simple physics can improve one’s hearing ability and we started to study and work on it.
Why hearing aids don’t work well for some situations ?
Through repeated experiments and learning, we classify people with hearing impairment into 2 categories:
Hearing impairment due to illness and injury etc. whereby the deterioration of the hearing function is discovered immediately and early. With conventional hearing aid, they can hear.
Deterioration of the hearing function happens over a period of time and slowly (approximately 10 years) until the condition worsen and conventional hearing aid may not help much.
The difference between the 2 categories lies in Recognition Rate.
Recognition Rate is tested in a professional hearing test to test a subject’s ability to distinguish a list of words presented in a volume the subject can hear comfortably.
For people in Category 2 above, they will experience a decrease in recognition rate as compared to those in Category 1.
For someone with a decreasing recognition rate (sign of hearing loss), the following difficulties are observed:
Interference from noises and echoes
In an environment with different sounds coming from different sources, he/she will not be able to identify the source of sound he/she wants to hear because all the sounds are mixed together.
For instances, indoor echoes, airport public announcements, multiple people speaking at the same time in a crowded restaurant.
Communicating party speaks too fast/deep voice tone.
Currently no hearing aid in the market is able to solve these two major difficulties as stated above. Hence, EAR逸耳 is invented to solve them.
Design Principle of EAR逸耳
Amplify the sound coming from the front
Reduce sound from the sides and back (including echo and background noises)