Friday, 22 May 2015

Motorola Earpieces For All Types of Industry

Are you in the security industry? Using Motorola Walkie Talkies? Need the ability to not have your conversation overheard, or need to silent on an event or restaurant service area, yet still in contact with your team? Do you need to walk and talk, so that you can multitask, or get other tasks completed while you are on the phone?

Then Motorola is the company, and the earpiece, for you and your team.

If you are in security, events or hotel management, you wouldn't necessarily want everyone to be able to see that you are wearing an earpiece, and there are a variety of ways to minimise the “I have a radio in my pocket and I boss people around” kind of look.

First clip the charged radio on to your belt. Select the station or frequency that you will be using. Make sure that the team are all on the same station. Attach the Motorola earpiece to the radio, by slotting the two prongs at the bottom of the cable in to the side of the Motorola walkie talkie. You will see there is a big prong and a small prong, make sure you have them the right way round.

Run the length of the earpiece cord under your shirt, and pop the top out by the collar or top button of your shirt, thereby hiding the wire from site. You will see a clip portion with a little speaker button it. That can be clipped on to your tie, shirt front or collar to allow you to speak in to it easily.

The Motorola earpiece is a curved half moon shape. Make sure the wire is tucked securely in to the casing, as it can sometimes come out during storage and insertion. Clip the half moon shape over the ear and insert the round black earpiece in to the ear. The earpiece is covered with a removable soft cover that can be taken off and washed if the radio’s are used by different people, in the interest of best hygiene practises.

If you are going for minimal look, arrange your hair to cover the earpiece or cord if possible. There are also high security options that run up the back of the neck and over the ear, and come in see through, clear tones to minimise the obviousness of them. These can be secured in to place using see through tape made especially for this purpose.

Motorola also makes very hi-tech options for security personnel, with items that can clip on to sunglasses, shirt cuffs etc, and give a very FBI, protecting the president look, but are extremely functional. They ear buds are also more fitting and are snug in the ear, to allow for better audio.

To speak through the microphone portion bring the unit close to your mouth. Press the button in and wait one second before speaking, to allow time for the radio’s to connect. When you are finished speaking, release the button. Wait for your team member to respond to your message. Remember to talk slowly and clearly. Although Motorola radios are really great quality, you are still a distance away from each other, and things such as mobile phones nearby, thick walls or ceilings, being underground etc can interfere with the signal and reception.

If you are a Motorola mobile phone user, then there are also a wide variety of Motorola earpieces available, that won’t make you look like a call centre agent, or hurt the inside of the ear if you wear them for long periods at a time. The Whisper Smooth Talk, comes with a retractable boom with 4-mic CrystalTalk and offers the user cutting edge clarity and wind noise reduction, especially useful if you are calling from outside, or talking while you are walking.

Bluetooth headsets clip over the ear, and allow you to connect wireless to your phone, which can be in your pocket or bag, and allow you to walk along and talk, without any cables or wires hanging around and getting in the way.

Motorola has been innovating in the phone and walkie talkie industry for many years, and the constant innovation and bettering of their Motorola earpieces and products for ease of use and comfort is inspirational.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

UK SURGEON EXPERIMENTS WITH OCULUS RIFT TO MAKE ‘VIRTUAL SURGEON’

A British surgeon wants to make the operating room virtual with the Oculus Rift headset.

Dr. Shafi Ahmed, a laparoscopic and colorectal surgeon, has already worked to integrate Google Glass into his lessons as an associate dean at the Barthes of London Medical School.

As co-founder of the tech company Medical Realities, Ahmed now wants to use the virtual reality system Oculus Rift to create the “Virtual Surgeon,” a pilot program that would allow medical students to practice surgeries inspired by actual operations before setting foot into an operating room.

Ahmed and his team presented Virtual Surgeon at the wearable technology show this week.

“It’s very easy to train people in a correct operation,” Ahmed told ABC News on Friday. “It’s not so easy when things go wrong. … We’re all put in situations where things can go wrong.”

Last month, Ahmed took the first steps towards creating that program by making a 360-degree video of an operation.

Anyone wearing an Oculus Rift headset could then be able to get an immersive view of the laparoscopic procedure when the video is played back.



The virtual reality experience of Oculus Rift is a better simulation for students, Ahmed said, because it can more easily mimic a real operating room.

“It’s as close as you can get to replicating it,” he said, noting that education should always embrace the newest technology and a virtual reality operating room could be the next major tool for students.

The Oculus Rift headset has not been made available to consumers yet, but the company was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion last year. The headsets have already been utilized by a range of people, from real estate agents to driving instructors and fitness companies.

The oculus Rift has huge potential, this is a great one where it can save lives. Much like pilots, racing drivers and firefighters use simulators to improve training this is a good thing, the only issue will be the standard of the software used with the headset.

Original source - http://kticradio.com/abc_health/uk-surgeon-experiments-with-oculus-rift-to-make-virtual-surgeon-abcid35269105/

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Photographic Find of the Century Depicts Trench Life in WW1

Although it meant disobeying direct orders (and a court martial if he was discovered), Lance Corporal George Hackney obviously felt a duty to document The Great War from a soldier’s perspective. Now, to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, his incredible photographs are being displayed in public for the first time.

The astounding collection, which includes candid photographs taken in the British trenches - and at least one amazing shot of a German surrender in 1916, was compiled between 1915, when Hackney was first sent to the front lines, and 1918, when the brutal conflict finally ended, and the photographer returned home.

Before he was called up, Hackney was a keen amateur photographer, and it shows. His pictures demonstrate a very accomplished sense of composition, but never feel forced or especially posed for (as some photography from the era can). In fact, the images are easily among the most intimate and credible pictures that exist from the conflict.

Among the most remarkable shots is a poignant image of a lone soldier writing a letter home, as well as another showing a group of soldiers (in full uniform) casually napping on the deck of the ship that would eventually deliver them to the front lines.

At the time these photographs were taken, no unofficial photography was allowed on the front lines. However, using a portable folding camera about the size of a modern smart phone, the Northern Irishman was able to document the war effort discreetly and respectfully.

Hackney then gave the photographs to his own family upon his return. In addition, many of his pictures were given as gifts to the families of the men photographed, sometimes offering grieving loved ones a chance to see their missing husband, brother or son, one final time.

To cite one such example, Hackney’s Sergeant, James Scott, was killed at the Battle of Messines in May 1917. After Lance Corporal Hackney returned home, he presented Scott’s family with three pictures of him, including a striking depiction of the officer looking proud and dashing on horseback.

The Sergeant’s descendant, Mark Scott, was instrumental in uncovering the stories behind these wonderful, and often profound, images...

Hackney’s pictures also provide excellent accompaniment to the war records of the men in question, rendering them as much more than simply names and numbers, or even as symbols of pure courage and sacrifice. Hackney’s photographs present these remarkable men to a new generation as simple Human beings fighting through an incredibly difficult time to be alive.

A photograph taken at County Antrim, which depicts Hackney’s friend John Ewing writing a diary entry (or possibly a letter home), adds a Human element to the historical facts that Ewing was eventually promoted to Sergeant and subsequently won the Military Medal for bravery in the field...

Stories like this abound in Hackney’s work, which ably presents the war in a far more evocative way than the official press photographs and propaganda of the time could ever have hoped to.

When George Hackney passed away in 1977, his family donated the pictures to the Ulster Museum, where they stayed in the Museum’s archives for over 30 years. These unique, powerful documents were, in turn presented to TV Director Brian Henry Martin by museum curator Dr. Vivienne Pollock, in 2012. Martin was shown the images alongside a collection of Hackney’s personal diaries and was captivated by them.

Lance Corporal Hackney eventually became the subject of a BBC Documentary, directed by Martin, entitled, ‘The Man Who Shot The Great War’. The show aired in Northern Ireland earlier this month.

In addition, Hackney’s work is soon to be the subject of a major exhibition at the Ulster Museum.

Mr. Martin is now bringing 300 of Hackney’s images to the BBC for future use, although it is estimated that there are around 200 more that are undiscovered at the time of writing.

Amanda Moreno of the Museums of The Royal Irish Regiment, told Yahoo! News that, “As a collection of photographs of the First World War, they are totally exceptional.”

Interviewed for the film, Franky Bostyn, Chief of The Belgian Ministry of Defense said, "I think you made the photographical World War One discovery of the century."

100 years on, George Hackney’s unique, vivid and (above all) brave photography presents us with a deeply Human portrait of life in the trenches of The Great War.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

How to be a better headphone listener

When you're listening to speakers the sound comes from "over there," but with headphones where is the sound? A lot depends on the recording and the headphones. With mono recordings the sound is centered inside your head, with stereo the sound picture is more complicated. Vocals, or any sound mixed to appear centered between the left and right channels, will be inside your head, like a mono recording. The sounds over to the left and right might come from next to your ears.

Listening over one of the better open-back full-size headphones, the sound might feel like it's surrounding you. You're in the middle of the sound field, or it might come from slightly above your head. The headphones melt away and you are one with the music. Sometimes when I'm watching a movie I forget the headphones. The sound isn't over there, it's all around me; I'm in the middle of a sound "bubble."

I'm not suggesting that headphones can ever mimic what we hear from speakers. Headphones can't do that, but the downside to speakers is they can never be heard directly; the speakers' sound is combined with the room's reflections, reverberations, and other forms of acoustic interference. With headphones the sound "couples" directly to your ears, so you have a far more intimate connection to the music.

With full-size over-the-ear headphones, the contours of your outer ears direct the sound to your inner ears in the same way sound is heard from speakers. In-ear headphones "bypass" the outer ear and produce a more direct connection to the recording. With purely acoustic music, the sound over headphones takes on what I call a microphone perspective, you hear what the mics "heard."

That's not the case with electronic music since no microphones were used to make the recording. Even so, I find lots of electronica sounds amazing, and some of the best albums were mixed to produce out-of-head stereo imaging. Listen for depth, does the sound seem very close to your ears or further away? Recordings vary a lot in their stereo imaging, but the more closely you listen, the more aware you will be of spatial cues in headphone listening. Try some of Brian Eno's ambient albums like "On Land" and "Apollo" to hear what I'm talking about.

To get started, relax and focus on the sound. Your surroundings should be fairly quiet, close your eyes, and sink into the music. After a few minutes the separate left, center, right stereo perspectives should fall away, and your head will feel like it's in the center of an expansive sound field.

Share your thoughts on spatial headphone listening below.

We found this excellent article here and as you can see it give us valuable information on why headphones aren't better than speakers, but if you don't want your neighbors complaining or your family moaning, then you'll have to wait for the technology to come up with perfect acoustic sound.

Police investigate after driver caught with mobile, headphones AND LAPTOP on busy Aberdeen road

This is the moment a motorist was captured on camera driving in a busy street â€" looking at his mobile, with his laptop plugged in and wearing earphones.

A screenshot from the video on Queen's Road, Aberdeen

The shocking footage was recorded in rush hour traffic and shows a blue 4×4 heading towards the centre of Aberdeen.

The male driver of the Land Rover Discovery now faces being quizzed by police about his antics â€" and has already been condemned by road safety campaigners.

The video was shot in the city’s Queen’s Road and uploaded to YouTube by a mystery cyclist known only as Cycle Cam.

Initially, the driver can be seen apparently looking down at his mobile phone as he cruises past the self-styled vigilante.

But when the biker catches up with him as he gets stuck in a queue of traffic, the full scale of his onboard gadget collection is revealed.

His ears are plugged by headphones connected to a mobile device, he is looking down at his phone and even has a laptop switched on and open next to the transmission tunnel of his vehicle.

The cyclist flashes his lights and points out the separate gadgets to him, but the 4×4 pulls off.

In a description to accompany the video, Cycle Cam writes: “This bloke is driving a Land Rover in town, looking at a mobile phone, laptop and wearing headphones on both ears.

“Not only is he not paying any attention to the road, I suspect he’s not even on this planet.

“I was truly surprised when I saw the laptop with the screen on and the headphones on both ears.

“I was ‘just’ expecting him to be on his mobile phone, as I see dozens of times everyday.”

The latest driver is just one of many motorists named and shamed on YouTube by the cyclist, who first caught the public’s attention last year with a video of a man pretending to be a police officer during a road rage encounter.

Describing his or her self as a “daily cycle commuter”, Cycle Cam’s online profile says: “General cycling education and naming and shaming bad driving in the roads of Aberdeen city and shire.

“Don’t want to be a star in my videos? Don’t endanger others. Drive properly, don’t be impatient and don’t be rude. Simple!”

After being contacted by the Press and Journal about the video, police said they were “following a positive line of inquiry”.

Last night, the driver was criticised by local councillors and road safety groups.

Hazlehead, Ashley and Queens Cross councillor Ross Thomson said he had been “extremely stupid”.

He said: “Dangerous driving like this has been a concern of the local community for some time and is regularly mentioned at community council meetings.

“It is especially a concern on the Queen’s Road because of the close proximity of all the schools in the area.

“The fact he was wearing headphones and had on a laptop is extremely dangerous.

“If you’re wearing headphones you are completely cutting off one of your senses, meaning you can’t hear emergency vehicles or other drivers’ horns.

“I know that driving through town can be frustrating but there is no e-mail that is more important than the life of a pedestrian.”

Neil Greig, research and policy director at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said the driver should be “ashamed”.

He said: “It’s a clear example of breaking the law on mobile phone use and the driver should be ashamed to be taking such risks for the sake of keeping in touch. No call is more important than someone’s life.

“The IAM have no problem with camera users sharing their footage with Police Scotland so that they can consider if formal action is required.

“Ideally, we would like to see more police out there enforcing the law rather than relying on amateurs.

“No one taking such footage should be pursuing a car just to get a good shot. Concentrating on catching someone out is also a distraction from the real task of driving or riding safely.”

You can watch the video by Aberdeen Cycle Cam here, on Scotland’s Worst Drivers’ Facebook page.

Source - https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeen/482954/hold-police-investiagte-after-camera-catches-driver-using-laptop-mobile-and-headphones-on-busy-aberdeen-road/

Friday, 8 May 2015

Introducing the Sensear Intrinsically Safe Double Protection Headset

Many of you might not heard of Sensear, they are making big strides in the headset industry, here is their latest offering.

Sensear, a global leader in developing and manufacturing best-in-class digital communication headsets, announced the release today of their new Intrinsically Safe Double Protection Headset (IS-SDP). Based on Sensear's existing SM1xSR IS headset, and incorporating the double protection feature from Sensear's current non-IS double protection headset; the new IS-SDP headset includes an improved boom microphone, and will interface with a variety of two-way radios both cabled and via Bluetooth for wireless operations.  Bluetooth can also be used with IS Smart phones and other IS Bluetooth devices.



The Sensear IS-SDP headset was developed from a marketplace need for a high performance intrinsically safe headset for extreme noise environments that require Class 1 Div 1 certification. Double hearing protection (both ear plugs and ear muffs) is often required when exposures may exceed 95 decibels (dBA) in many critical working areas. At the same time operators in these environments are required to use two-way radios to hear site communications and respond appropriately. Without the use of an appropriate intrinsically safe headset communications on site can potentially be very difficult.

The ear-plugs for the IS-SDP are hard wired to the headset allowing for dual protection, and communications to be directly understood by the operator. The IS-SDP's 31 dB NRR combined with Sensear's patented SENSâ„¢ technology allow operators to protect their hearing at a safe level of 82 dB, communicate effectively between co-workers via two-way radio and Bluetooth and maintain 360-degree awareness.

"We were excited about the development of the IS-SDP the early beginnings of Sensear grew from creating unique solutions for many industrial environments," said Peter Larsson, CEO.  "The IS-SDP continues to show our commitment to developing practical, usable products that solve the communication challenges in heavy industry."

Source - http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/introducing-the-sensear-intrinsically-safe-double-protection-headset-300052146.html

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

RFID and AIDC News: What is Zebra's Strategy for Motorola's Mobile Wireless and Data Collection Businesses?

In early 2014, printing and RFID system focused Zebra Technologies announced it was acquiring the "Enterprise Systems" business from Motorola Solutions, in a deal that closed in late October. That left Motorola to focus on its radio systems business.

It was a somewhat surprising move, certainly moving Zebra up the supply chain food change. What was the strategy behind the deal? How fast and how far will the integration of Motorola into Zebra go? Is Zebra now a "solutions" company?

SCDigest editor Dan Gilmore recently interviewed Mike Terzich, Zebra's Chief Administrative Officer who is leading the integration program, on these and several other topics.

Gilmore: Mike, before we start talking about the Motorola Enterprise acquisition, you've been around the Auto ID industry for two decades. Not long ago, it was a very recognized and defined space. Now, not so much. It doesn't receive much press coverage at all today, though SCDigest is trying to rectify that a bit. Is it because it's just so easy to make it work today that end users just don't need much education any more?

Terzich: I think part of the reason that it has evolved the way it has is that if you look at who the industry icons were back in the day, the Intermecs, the Symbols [Symbol Technologies], the Telxons, the Hand Held Products, Datamax - all of them have been consolidated up into large industrial conglomerates. Zebra is really one of the last of the independents.

For years, you had so much independent development, and every manufacturer had their own operating language and everything was proprietary, so that added a dimension of complexity that users had to deal with. Over time, as architectures became more open and interoperable, the mystery kind of disappeared on how to implement and integrate this stuff. The question now is not really about the technical aspects, but issues like how to optimize my assets across my supply chain network. Today it is much more of an application and business question than it is a technical one with Auto ID.

Gilmore: I must admit the Motorola announcement took me a bit by surprise, though it was clear there were some tensions within the old Motorola Solutions between the radio side and the wireless and data collection businesses. What was Zebra's strategy in making this deal?

Terzich: A little bit history - we tried to be part of the opportunity back in 2006 and 2007 when Symbol Technologies was put on the market and eventually found its way to Motorola. We made a pitch at the time - I was personally involved - and as I like to say we were a day late and a dollar short in terms of making a deal.

So our interest level from a strategic perspective has really been in place for seven years. So when the opportunity re-presented itself last year, our CEO Anders Gustafsson and Motorola started to have some conversations. For us, it was always about the attraction of where we saw the market evolving, and this whole concept around enterprise apps and intelligence, the interest of companies to optimize across their value chains, and we felt that the combination of Zebra and the enterprise mobility business from Motorola made complete sense because it allowed us to offer a broader portfolio and a higher percentage of the solution offering.

For us, it also allows us to become closer to the application development side of the business. As a printing company, while we had a vision and an aspiration to be part of where enterprises were willing to go in terms of managing their business, it's hard to lead application and solution development around your brand when you're the printing component. Printing has become almost second nature today, while the wireless business and the portfolio Motorola has there in terms of mobile computing and the trends were we seeing with Cloud-based application development, the Internet of Things, asset optimization, and ubiquitous mobility - that's what enticed us to say this is still a very relevant strategic opportunity today as it was back in 2007.

Gilmore: I understand you have rather fully integrated Motorola in already. I would have thought that initially, given the very different nature of the business, that you would have started with it as separate SBU. I also understand you are quickly getting rid of the Motorola brand name in favor of it all being Zebra Technologies. Is that correct, and if Yes, what was the thinking?

Terzich: It's semi-correct. Where we are integrated is in our go-to-market strategy and our face to the customer. When you look at where Motorola Enterprise Mobility was selling, who their customers were and their routes to market, it was a combination of strategically calling on some very large end users and a significant reseller and integrator channel. It turned out that the amount of common end user customers and channel partners between Zebra and Motorola Enterprise is really quite significant.

So we had the opportunity to integrate sales forces, and when you think about it through the eyes of the sales team, your carrying more products in your sales bag, you are selling largely to the same channel partners that Zebra and Motorola were both selling to independently. The largest end users are mostly customers in common, so there was some natural synergistic opportunity in our go to market model.

Where we have remained separate is in the R&D and development side, because the product lines are complementary not competitive, and over time Motorola's competency in mobile computing, data collection and wireless networks are unique skill sets for us. So we are maintaining separate engineering and product development organizations, but we come together with a common global sales and marketing organization.

Gilmore: And what about the branding? Is the Motorola name gone, it is now all Zebra Technologies going forward?

Terzich: From a contractual/legal perspective, we have to get off the name and the "batwings" [the Motorola logo] as part of the transaction, so it's not like we have a choice. We can however leverage the Symbol Technologies brand, and we are going to do that as a product brand is some isolated areas. But Symbol as a name has been out of circulation for about seven years, and while it has some affinity say in the reseller community, the long term strategy is that everything will be branded Zebra Technologies.

But in the transitional period there will be some product that have to transfer to a Symbol products sub-brand as a means to get off of the Motorola bat wings.

Gilmore: What's your take on wireless systems market? It really now is just down in the US to just two major players, Honeywell and now Zebra. Is it is still a good market, a growth market?

Terzich: What's interesting about the combination is we're now number one in mobile computing, number one in data collection, and number one in printing. We have a very large global service organization. And then you get to wireless LAN, and that's the fifth of our major revenue buckets.

What's interesting about wireless LAN is that it has the highest growth profile of any of those segments, but clearly Motorola's position here is not number 1. You have some very large players [e.g., Cisco] that operate in a more horizontal market mode, and focus generally on more "carpeted" areas of a business, versus a distribution center or shop floor or a retail store. I think Motorola had done a nice job of carving out a niche relative to some markets that we service, principally in the retail and some of the hospitality markets, and the product has been successful and we have quite a bit of customer loyalty in these sectors.

So our strategy going forward from a wireless LAN perspective is to be very vertically focused and application specific where the product has some advantages, and to build off that customer loyalty. We don't think the answer is to compete broadly in the wireless LAN marketplace because we don't have the R&D engine or the brand equity in some of those markets or applications.

So we are going to stick to our knitting, which will concentrated in retail, hospitality and healthcare, where our product seems to resonate.

Gilmore: You and Motorola use primarily a channels strategy. Are you in the solutions business, and can you do that if you use a channels strategy and are one-step removed from the customer?



Terzich: Great question.

One of the things that most people don't realize is that Zebra, organically before the Motorola acquisition, had about 80% of its business through channels and about 20% through some large, named strategic accounts. And those accounts tended to be some very sophisticated adopters of technology that effectively act as their own systems integrator.

These are large retailers, large transportation companies, and large manufacturers that well understand how to deploy technology to drive efficiency and productivity. So that was our composite, and Motorola's was very similar, the difference being that because Motorola offered enterprise mobile computing, they tended to call a little higher in those organizations, and they worked more closely with application developers and independent software developers because usually the real problem is solved by application software and re-engineering of business processes.

So Motorola may have been calling on maybe 40% of its revenue from a strategic account perspective, and that means they had a seat at the end user table and they are influencing those companies, even if those are sometimes still being fulfilled through channels.

So where do we fall in the solutions spectrum? Both product lines do not constitute a solution by themselves, they still need to connect to application software and that requires integration support. So the channel will remain a very vital part of the strategy.

At a very simple level, we see that there are opportunities for better enabling application software. So how do we make mobile printing devices and mobile computing and data collection devices better together from a product design set? How do we make our technology more interoperable and attractive for application development?

When you look at this technology and how ubiquitous it is you, find that deployment is really though many hundreds of application developers. You don't see a small number of applications as being really dominant. Our job is to continue to work with those developers to make our solutions as easy to integrate with them as we can.

No CIO or CFO goes to bed at night thinking "I need to bar code something." But they do wake up and say I need to take a billion dollars out my supply chain, or whatever the figure is. What we do is often a key piece of what becomes the strategy to achieve those goals.

Gilmore: If I understand it right, you have released your own Voice solution, originally developed by Motorola's Psion unit in Europe, here into the US market. Before, Motorola relied exclusively on partners here for Voice software. What is the strategy?

Terzich: Ultimately, Voice as a technology is just another extension of using mobility to make operations more productive and efficient, especially in warehousing applications. So it's really just a continuum to us of bringing more capability to those that are trying to optimize workflow. Workflow has become without question one of the biggest areas of opportunity across anyone's supply chain. This is part of why we are so excited about the combined portfolio in general, and our Voice solution is part of that.

Gilmore: Mike, appreciate you sharing your insight today.

Terzich: Thanks Dan. I enjoyed the conversation.

For more information and conversation visit the source of this article - http://www.scdigest.com/ontarget/15-02-04-1.php?cid=8965

Friday, 1 May 2015

Bluetooth Earpieces Do Battle With the $3,000 Hearing Aid

One night in June 2010, New York composer Richard Einhorn went to bed in a motel feeling stuffy and woke up almost completely deaf. At the time, Einhorn, who wrote the oratorio Voices of Light, had limited ways to deal with his nightmare condition, known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss. He visited an audiologist and bought a hearing aid for $3,000. (His insurance plan, like most, didn’t cover it.) Unhappy with the expense and the limits of the earpiece’s technology, which struggled to adapt to different noise levels, Einhorn began searching for alternative gadgets that could restore more of his hearing for less money.

Today, he has a backpack full of them. To supplement his old-school hearing aid, he favors a $350 iPhone-linked earpiece made by Sound World Solutions, a hearing-hardware maker in Park Ridge, Ill., for whom he’s begun to consult. With the Sound World device on, he can amplify phone calls and streaming music as well as his surroundings. A third, $500 earpiece was custom-made by Ultimate Ears in Irvine, Calif., to help him detect a wider range of musical tones while composing. For restaurants and theaters, he has a $45 directional microphone that pairs with a $5 app to isolate desired voices. And for especially cacophonous places, he has spare $700 microphones, made by Etymotic Research in Elk Grove Village, Ill., that he can strap to companions.

Einhorn credits the audio patchwork with saving his career and his life. “It’s incredible,” he says over lunch in a busy restaurant, as he toggles the proper setting on his phone.

The Bluetooth-connected earpieces aren’t classified as hearing aids by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They’re called personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs. Basic versions of such devices have existed for more than a decade in lonely RadioShack aisles and a handful of other places. But in the past 18 months, advances in circuitry and low-energy Bluetooth transmission have helped developers radically improve the designs to make high-quality, long-lasting alternativesto hearing aids while keeping pricesat a fraction of the industry standard.


Whatever regulators or insurers call them, PSAP manufacturers are angling to expand the $6 billion global market for hearing technology. Largely due to the cost, 75 percent of the 34 million Americans with hearing loss don’t use aids, says David Kirkwood, the editor of industry blog Hearing Health & Technology Matters. “A lot of people will continue to pay for traditional hearing aids,” he says. “But there are now inexpensive, easy-to-get alternatives.”



Part of the reason PSAPs are cheap is that they’re unregulated. Hearing-aid fittings and audiological calibrations account for much of the cost of aids from the big six makersâ€"Siemens, Sonova, Starkey Hearing Technologies, William Demant, GN ReSound, and Widex. A midlevel pair that retails for $4,400 costs about $440 to manufacture, according to AARP. Research and development spending is also a factor: Unlike the free Bluetooth standard used by upstarts such as Sound World, old-school hearing aids run on proprietary signal processing and transmission technology. Siemens, Sonova, and Widex declined to comment; GN ReSound, Starkey, and William Demant didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Still, being kept out of doctors’ offices has been a huge problem for PSAP makers, says Venkat Rajan, who tracks medical devices for researcher Frost & Sullivan. While the size of the market can be difficult to gauge given the lack of regulation, anecdotal evidence suggests sales have been soft, he says. It doesn’t help that, according to industry journal the Hearing Review, the average American buying a hearing aid is 71 years old. “Trying to find that customer base has been difficult,” Rajan says.

The marketing of hearing aids, classified as medical devices by the FDA since 1977, is strictly regulated in the U.S. According to agency guidelines that predate the latest generation of equipment, PSAP makers aren’t allowed to market their products as medical devices. Instead, they’re supposed to be used recreationally by people who can already hear comfortably. The FDA, which wouldn’t say whether it plans to change its rules, occasionally issues warnings to companies it believes to be violating them, so PSAP ads tend to include at least one verbal somersault. An ad for Etymotic describes its latest product, the Bean, thusly: “Not a hearing aid but has many advantages.”

The $300 Bean is the brainchild of Mead Killion, the co-founder of Etymotic. He invented the analog hi-fi amplification technology behind the device back in 1988, but says it’s only since 2013 that circuitry has become cheap enough for the product to be worth manufacturing en masse. His company uses the same technology in adaptive earplugs designed for orchestra musicians or infantry troops to keep music or conversation audible while dampening loud noises. A decade ago, Killion failed to persuade the FDA that early PSAPs should be sold over the counter. He’s lobbying for a contract with the Department of Defense.

Normally, I hear fine, but I conducted a hands-on experiment shortly before an interview with Killion. It became clear that having professional help putting these things in is a good idea. Initially, one Bean in each ear made it easy to hear faraway gossip in a noisy Whole Foods. Then I pushed them too far, and suddenly could hear nothing at all. Killion said the problem was waxy buildup in my narrow ear canals, so the next step was a $150 cerumenectomyâ€"that is, getting a doctor to scrape out gobs of wax and clear the blockage.

The era of Internet diagnosis hasn’t eliminated the need for medical professionals, says Erin Miller, president of the American Academy of Audiology. “This is our biggest problem with the PSAPs in general,” she says. “We want to make sure someone has looked in the patient’s ear.” All the more reason, PSAP makers argue, to put their products in medical offices next to those from Starkey and ReSound. For now, the companies’ sales will be limited to true believers like Einhorn, the composer. “You have to remember that I’m a maniac,” he says. “I will do anything to hear as best as possible in any situation.”

What we say: Whilst Bluetooth is regarded as an old technology now the reliability can't be questioned. It would seem that this type of technology is a log time coming to a thirsty industry for inventive technology. Source - http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-05/hearing-aid-alternatives-get-cheaper-more-powerful