Many health-centric wearables focus on tracking your daily activities to make you smarter about your body, but a new wearable aims to make you smarter about the way you hear. Soundhawk is an app-enabled listening device that aims to enhance hearing by allowing the wearer to customize their listening experience to their environment. Unlike hearing aids, the Soundhawk only goes in one ear and is not intended for people that have hearing impairments or disabilities. Instead, says Soundhawk CEO Michael Kisch, the device is meant for those that simply need extra help hearing in specific situations, such as noisy restaurants or while walking in large crowds.
Between the hum of construction, the wave of restaurant chatter, and the sounds of blaring street traffic, the world is full of noise straining our ear drums that we’d rather tune out. While hearing is something everyone struggles with to varying degrees, we tend not to address it until the necessity of a $5,000 pair of hearing aids arises later in life. Now, a startup out of Cupertino, Calif. called Soundhawk hopes it can use the techie zeal and design savvy of modern wearable technology to address that issue in a way that will get younger individuals tackling hearing struggles more preemptively. Its offering is an in-ear device for $299 (£175, AU$320), the shape and size of a flattened thimble, which weighs 8g. It communicates with your smartphone using Bluetooth low-energy to modify how you hear through a combination of directional noise reduction and volume amplification. The two-microphone amplifier, which can also make phone calls and stream audio from your phone like a standard headset, is intended to be comfortable and subtle enough to be worn for hours at a time, every day.