Medical Designed Headphones 

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Adding to the range of wearable devices is news of a new type of headphones coming from Australia.

Audeara headphones
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Headphones come in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles and functionality to appeal to the needs of different users.  There are in-ear, on-ear and my particular favourite of over-ear models.  They can come with features that include noise-cancelling and wire-free connectivity, such as Bluetooth, to add to the offered underlying audio quality.  I recently came across some advanced notice of a headphone product that was described as the world’s first full fidelity headphones with a built-in hearing test – something I had not encountered before.

These headphones are currently being developed by a company entitled Audeara base, I believe, in Australia.  Founded in 2014 by Dr. Chris Jeffery and Dr. James Fielding, two hospital doctors, the Audeara headphones were originally designed to create a medical-grade audiogram product that would be easy to use and could be calibrated through the use of an app available on a mobile smartphone as another example of technology assisting in health matters.

The concept behind this product would be for the user to undertake a hearing test when the headphones were first worn.  The actual hearing test would be carried out using the downloadable app.  The results of this test would be subsequently stored in the headphones themselves as a user-specified profile.  Using the data stored within the profile, the headphones will be able to provide the intelligence to help appropriately adjust the sound stream signal as it passes through on the way to the users’ ears. 

The headphones’ built-in technology is able to adjust the stream delivered to the right ear differently from that delivered to the left ear depending upon the needs of the wearer.  The delivery managed by the headphones could help ensure that each part of the audio signal reaches the user’s brain so that it would be heard as a perfect reflection of the original signal.  If necessary further testing can be carried out if situations demand during to any alterations in the user’s hearing capabilities through age or other reasons.

According to the information I have received, the Audeara headphones makes use of a software interface that is delivered from a smartphone app.  This app will send the actual Bluetooth commands to an on-board printed circuit board (PCB) that resides within the headphones.  This circuit board provides the means for the headphones to generate the tones and maintain consistency across the various Bluetooth devices that the user may be using at any given time to deliver the incoming audio stream.  So the use of a different Bluetooth device should not affect the quality of the delivered audio stream.

The combination of PCB and downloadable app will calibrate the headphones so that they can use the created profile as the baseline for accurate audiogram testing.  This testing is claimed to allow a modulation table to be applied and adjusts the incoming musical signals to meet the needs of the user’s requirements.  The headphones’ developers are of the opinion that the use of the attenuation module, rather than increasing gain, will ensure maximisation of the signal intensity without creating distortion and who am I to argue with this claim until I have the opportunity to try out the product myself.

The product, which I have yet to get my hands on, has been financed via the popular Kickstarter approach.  It is currently expected to be widely available in July 2017 priced at £310 with early backers paying £155 for their unit.  For your money you are promised headphones that feature an adjustable headband and soft, over-the-ears cushion pads with a rotatable design that allows for easy storage in a slim hard carry case.  Featuring supports for low-latency, high-fidelity Bluetooth with high-quality 40mm Mylar speakers and a built-in lithium-ion battery pack, these headphones are expected to give the user up to 30 hours of use depending upon the settings being activated.  I look forward to checking out this product later this year.

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