Do you ever stop and consider just how noisy our daily lives have become? It’s not just the swirl of 24-7 real-time information from electronic devices, but actual, literal noise.
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never given too much thought to the impact of urban noise and industrialized environments. But did you know that from hearing to heart rates, prolonged exposure to elevated background noise levels can be a detriment to your health, well-being, and productivity?
Background noise in one of today’s typical cities sustains noise levels of 60 decibels on average. That’s enough to raise your blood pressure, increase stress, negatively impact your ability to concentrate, and disrupt sleep.
In busy traffic, on trains, in airports, or while working in industrial settings, noise levels regularly exceed 85 decibels, enough to cause significant long-term hearing damage.
The Traditional Solution to Noise Pollution
Take a look around the average commuter bus or a sidewalk in one of today’s major cities and note how many people are wearing earbuds or headphones. As observed by writer Brett Williams of Mashable, “Nearly everyone you see on the street is perpetually in an aural bubble, separate from the outside world.”
But bubbles can be isolating. Isolation while commuting can be dangerous, making you unaware of potential hazards or dangers. Isolation in the workplace stifles creativity and collaboration or creates unwanted social stigmas.
Additionally, adding a layer of noise through your earbuds or headphones further increases the risk of hearing damage over prolonged periods of time.
It’s Time To Get Smarter with Augmented Hearing
So, what’s a smarter solution to escape the auditory stressors and hearing health risks of urban existences?
The answer lies in a new, rapidly growing sector of so-called smart consumer electronics known as “hearables” and a niche of products offering a truly “augmented hearing” experience.
Hearables are feature-rich wireless earbuds that bring smart technology to the ear. From voice recognition technology to speech enhancement and noise control, the hearables category is predicted by Juniper Research to grow seven-fold over a 5 year-period — from 43 million in 2017 to 285 million units in 2022.
But it’s the concept of augmented hearing that will truly change your perception of what wearing earbuds in your daily life is like.
You’ve probably heard of augmented reality (AR). It’s usually associated with visual applications, and technology that superimposes computer-generated images onto your view of the real world. The video game Pokémon Go used AR technology to created short-lived international sensation in 2016, and AR is increasingly used in the construction and real estate industries today.
Augmented hearing involves blending and controlling the levels of digital media and environmental noise from the physical world passing through your ears. In a practical sense, imagine listening to a podcast on the subway, while reducing your exposure to damaging background noise from the rails and still being able to hear a service announcement over the PA system.
Nuheara, an emerging technology start-up out of Western Australia, may offer the best option yet to discover this new form of smart, augmented hearing for yourself.
IQbuds: Isolation when you want it, socialization when you need it
Nuheara unveiled their pioneering IQbuds at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Following an award-winning debut, their smart wireless earbuds revealed an ever-growing number of examples where augmented hearing could potentially enhance your everyday life.
Canadian technology entrepreneur and YouTube “unboxing” celebrity Lew Hilsenteger of “Unbox Therapy” fame described IQbuds as a means of attaining super power hearing in his online review.
While super power hearing may be a bit of an exaggeration, there are numerous situations where hearable devices are extremely useful. Consider a few of the pre-configured location profiles IQbuds can be set to:
Given the proliferation of open office work environments, there’s a decent probability that noise is a potential distraction for you during the workday. Augmented hearing offers a way to combat the constant noise and psychological impact of open offices without isolating staff and preventing collaboration.
Men’s Health called IQbuds Boost, the 2nd generation of the original IQbuds, “the absolute best wireless earphones for workouts even though they weren’t even designed for the gym.” Stay motivated with your favorite beats and get “access to sounds you’d never pick up with your normal sensory functions.”
Airline cabin noise can range from 75 to 85db or more, with even higher spikes during takeoff and landing. Dial back the drone of engine noise in the cabin and enhance the speech of your seatmates for easier conversation and quicker delivery of your complimentary in-flight beverage.
If you’ve ever struggled to follow conversations in noisy restaurants, cafes, or clubs, the concept of pub deafness might sound familiar. Hearables such as IQbuds offer hope for an affordable and accessible option to separate foreground voices from background noise in very loud social settings.
The disappearing headphone jack means it’s time for smarter hearing
Since the debut of the iPhone 7, Apple stopped including the traditional headphone jack on their iconic phones. This means there’s a good chance you may have already made the switch to Bluetooth headphones or earbuds in the last year. As CNET recently concluded, when it comes to Apple, the headphone jack is extinct.
Before settling for a basic set of Bluetooth wireless earbuds, consider the advantages of smart hearing with hearables such as IQbuds. The combination of available features offers the ability to potentially protect your hearing, enhance conversation clarity, enjoy great quality sound, and enhance your everyday audio experience.
Blurring Lines Between Hearables and Hearing Aids
Perhaps most exciting is the opportunity for cutting-edge devices such as IQbuds BOOST to significantly disrupt the hearing health sector. An ever-increasing percentage of the global population lives with untreated mild-to-moderate hearing loss due to environmental noise and other factors.
Traditionally, much of the resistance to hearing aids or assisted listening devices has been attributable to affordability and accessibility. Hearables such as IQbuds BOOST may solve this issue.
In less than 10 minutes, IQbuds BOOST users can create a unique Ear ID profile using the IQbuds Android or iOS application. The earbuds then auto-calibrate to your individual hearing profile based upon the results of the test. Ear ID uses the same NAL-NL2 prescription formula used by many audiologists worldwide, and early consumer feedback has been outstanding.
Whether it’s augmented hearing, or the ability to simply hear better in social settings and loud environments, new smart hearing devices offer promising new solutions for an increasingly noisy world.