Varibel, the glasses that hear

Apr 07, 2006

Today a new hearing aid in the form of a pair of glasses was unveiled. These hearing-glasses are called 'Varibel' and offer older people the chance to stay active longer - free from the aesthetically unpleasing and technologically limited traditional hearing aids. Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands originally developed the hearing-glasses. Varibel developed these glasses into a consumer product in partnership with Philips, Frame Holland, the design agencies MMID and Verhoeven, and others.

Approximately 1,265,000 people in the Netherlands over the age of 60 are hearing impaired. Of these, half 22% (or around 275,000 people) use a hearing aid, but it is not always possible to hear others well if there is surrounding noise. Many hearing aids intensify sounds from all directions.

The result is that people hear noise, but not the people they are speaking to. Because people have such difficulty understanding what others are saying, many people - in spite of their hearing aid - have less social contact with others or must retire from their jobs earlier than desired. The hearing-glasses can provide a solution to this problem, say the experts and users who have tried and tested the Varibel.

The Varibel cannot be compared to traditional hearing aids. In each leg of the glass' frame there is a row of four tiny, interconnected microphones, which selectively intensify the sounds that come from the front, while dampening the surrounding noise. The result is a directional sensitivity of +8.2 dB. In comparison, regular hearing aids have a maximum sensitivity of +4 dB. With this solution, the user can separate the desired sounds from the undesired background noise.

Dr. Cor Stengs, ENT specialist involved in the clinical tests, said of the Varibel: "Practical experience with the hearing-glasses supports the theoretical claims that the ability to understand speech is much better. There is a significant improvement in the sound quality."

With Varibel, natural sounds can still be heard. This solution allows people to hear naturally and clearly in the direction in which they are looking. This has great advantages for daily life. Martin de Jong, audio-technician, says: "With the Varibel, the natural sounds that people enjoy are retained. This works surprisingly well. People can hear good and at the same time clearly – and especially in rooms such as in a cafe or at a birthday party."

Source: Delft University of Technology

Explore further: Volvo Cars design team offers concept in rearward baby seating

Related Stories

Electric car is time-beater at Pikes Peak climb event

15 minutes ago

For optimists enjoying the technology progress of electric cars, an encouraging turn of events took place recently with electric cars in the top two finishing spots at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb ...

Blacklist warnings spread on websites in North Korea

2 hours ago

North Korea, already one of the least-wired places in the world, appears to be cracking down on the use of the Internet by even the small number of foreigners who can access it with relative freedom by blacklisting ...

Recommended for you

Researchers build first working memcomputer prototype

25 minutes ago

(Tech Xplore)—A combined team of researchers from the University of California and Politecnico di Torino in Italy has built, for the first time, a working memory-crunching computer (memcomputer) prototype. ...

Europe's deepest glider to be developed

27 minutes ago

19 partners from across Europe have come together to develop Europe's first ultra-deep-sea robot glider. This glider will be capable of sampling the ocean autonomously at depths of 5000m, and maybe more in ...

Researchers help reconstructing the Michelangelo bronzes

35 minutes ago

Engineers and imagers from the University of Warwick's Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and anatomists from Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick are helping Art historians from the University ...

Robots can't kill you – claiming they can is dangerous

55 minutes ago

Robots' involvement in human deaths is nothing new. The recent death of a man who was grabbed by a robot and crushed against a metal plate at a Volkswagen factory in Baunatal, Germany, attracted extensive ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

huuducho
not rated yet Mar 18, 2008
Hi,
This is Duc.
I need the varibel hearing eyeglasses.
Please tell me how I can buy it and cost.
Thank you.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.