Did you know that 48 million Americans deal with some degree of hearing loss? Hearing loss is a major public health issue, and the third most commonly found physical condition after arthritis and heart disease. As a physical condition that is often overlooked, National Save Your Hearing Day, which is observed yearly on May 31, is a chance to raise awareness about hearing loss and learn how to protect our auditory senses.
Last year the government passed the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act, an act designed to provide greater public accessibility and affordability with over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids to adults who suffer from mild-to moderate hearing loss. The law also directed the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to designate a new category of hearing aids, which means headphone makers and technology companies can provide devices in this arena.
Today, tech players are joining traditional hearing aid makers in bringing savvy hearable devices to consumers that do more than just improve sound. Recognizing a fifth of the country deals with some degree of hearing loss and the expense of traditional hearing aids, HARMAN leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) technologies to transform hearing aids into real-time health monitoring devices that are affordable and ‘smarter’.
HARMAN’s partnership with Under Armour and the launch of our first heart rate monitoring sports headphones is a prime example of hearables becoming health efficient. The UA Headphones Wireless Heart Rate model provides instant heart rate measured directly from the ear at the touch of a button, allowing athletes to embrace their workout without the need to pause and check a watch or phone. Another similar alternative is the JBL Reflect fit, a Bluetooth-enabled, behind-the-neck sport headphone. Innovative hearables also enable consumers to control what they hear. For instance, HARMAN’s ambient aware technology on the JBL Everest headphones allows users to remove background noise with the touch of a button.
Industry predictions that indicate how hearable devices are poised to grow over 500% by 2022 is a testament to this sector’s limitless possibilities. These solutions can follow a consumer everywhere they go, similar to a users’ mobile device. At HARMAN, we’re currently working on what we call the “Perfect Call,” which enables individuals to have a natural conversation without raising their voice due to noisy environments. In the future, we can imagine how earbuds paired with smart glasses could rival the traditional smartphone.
HARMAN knows firsthand that sound is a powerful part of our everyday lives. It has been our mission for more than 70 years to deliver the best audio no matter where you are. Today, we see even more potential in audio with smart technologies and new knowledge about the impact of sound on our health and wellness. With more research and innovation, we aim to maximize the possibilities in this space, whether it’s reducing hearing loss, improving fitness routines or more accurately monitoring medical issues. That’s music to our ears!