Glasses that hear well

If you live in the Netherlands and don't hear well, you'll soon be able to buy a new hearing aid, a pair of Varibel glasses. These special glasses have four small interconnected microphones in each leg of their frames and offer a better sound quality than other hearing aids.

If you live in the Netherlands and don't hear well, you'll soon be able to buy a new hearing aid, a pair of Varibel glasses. These special glasses originally developed at Delft University of Technology have four small interconnected microphones in each leg of their frames. And these microphones can "selectively intensify the sounds that come from the front, while dampening the surrounding noise." So these glasses offer a better sound quality than other hearing aids.

Before going further, here is a picture of these hearing glasses with their tiny microphones (Credit: Varibel).

The Varibel glasses

Now, why people using current hearing aids are not satisfied?

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.

So what is the solution brought by 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.

Below is a picture of a full Varibel package as you'll be able to buy before the end of April 2006 (Credit: Varibel).

The Varibel package

And will it be of good help in public places?

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."

For more information, you can visit the Varibel web site -- if you read Dutch.

Sources: Delft University of Technology news release, April 7, 2006; and various web sites

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