At first, the idea of a hearing aid for people who can already hear just fine seems daft. But if you entertain it for a second, it starts to make a bit more sense. Imagine what it would be like if, with the help of technology, you could make your already good hearing better. What if you could filter out certain noises and amplify other ones to customize what you can hear? Well, thanks to serial entrepreneur Michael Kisch, you might soon be able to.
The Soundhawk Scoop is a special earpiece that gives you the ability to selectively filter and amplify certain frequencies — essentially allowing you to fine-tune your hearing for certain environments. If properly adjusted, this little gizmo (which it’s creators refer to as a “smart listening device”) could help you do things like hear your dining partner better in a crowded restaurant, understand your friends at loud concerts without them screaming in your ear, or even eavesdrop on people from the other side of a room.
Now to be sure, these kinds of devices definitely aren’t a new thing. There are other versions of the same idea floating around right now, but Scoop is unique for a couple different reasons. For starters, it’s drastically less expensive than similar devices we know of, which (aside from being designed primarily for hearing protection) oftentimes run you upwards of $1K.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, Scoop is smart. The device is app-enabled, so tweaking the filters and adjusting the things you can hear is as easy as moving a slider around on your smartphone. The app, which is a available for both iOS and Android, also lets you set custom “sound scenes,” which are basically like presets you can configure for specific settings, such as driving in a car or sitting in a restaurant. When driving, for example, the device’s wind-noise reduction algorithms would likely be used more heavily than when sitting in a crowded coffee shop.
The device consists of three different components: the Scoop earpiece itself (which resembles a normal Bluetooth earpiece), an accompanying wireless microphone (for situations where the wearer needs to be heard more clearly), and a charging pack/carrying case that provides up to eight hours of juice. It also comes with four different ear tips of varying sizes which, in addition to fitting different ear holes, also offer varying acoustic properties. The larger tips, for example, will let a broader range of frequencies through for a fuller sound, whereas the smaller ones tend to shut out low frequencies and amplify those in the upper register.
Eventually, Kisch says Scoop will be able to learn more about you, and use your phone to automatically adjust your sound settings based on your location. That functionality isn’t built in quite yet, but it’s something the creators plan to implement in the near future.
Unfortunately you can’t stuff one of these badoys in your ear canal just yet, but the system is currently available for preorder, so you can lock one down now if you hit Soundhawk’s website. The first units are expected to ship by the end of the summer.
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