High Tech Eye Glasses Helps People With Single Sided Deafness
Single Sided Deafness (SSD) is a type of hearing loss where only one of two ears is impaired.
SSD is typically caused by viral infections, Meniere’s disease, head or ear injuries, or through surgical intervention to remove brain tumours. Many patients learn to live with a unilateral hearing loss.
People with SSD have little trouble in daily lives because they do hear sound. In fact, however, people with SSD are fighting against many problems.
It is estimated that more than 7% of adults in United States suffer from SSD. Unlike people with bilateral hearing loss, people with SSD go unnoticed because they act and speak normally. In fact, many of people with SSD are reluctant to tell others about their symptoms. Some people say it is hard to talk about SSD even with their best friend.
See chart below for the characteristics of Single Sided Deafness.
Deafness: Why We Have Two Ears
- Left ear catches sound from the left side and right ear catches sound from the right side more efficiently. Having two ears enables us to listen to sound coming from wide range of angle.
- When listening to a weak sound source, sounds arrived to two ears are summed up so that it can be listened more clearly.
- Sound localization ability is increased using two ears. Imagine stereo audio recordings. By just using two microphones when recording, the information where the sound came from is preserved pretty well.
- Our brains make use of two ears in order to selectively listen to what we want to listen (e.g. speech) and filter out unwanted sound.
In people suffering from SSD, these features are completely or partially unavailable. In fact, people with Single Sided Deafness have great difficulty listening to speech in noisy situations.
Deafness: New High Tech Glasses
At the recent South by Southwest Tech conference, students from the University of Tokyo showed a demo of their prototype glasses for people with SSD. Called “asEars”, these high-tech glasses consist of a tiny microphone in the upper rim on the side of the impaired ear. The microphone detects what direction the sound is originating from and helps filter out noise. Sound is transmitted through a bone conduction transducer that is embedded in the glasses stem closest to the working ear.
asEars are effective and certainly more stylish than the current CROS hearing aids.
Watch this informative video: