Technologies

Our 3D hearing technologies provide order-of-magnitude performance improvements
Allowing individuals and devices to hear, even in loud, multi-talker noise and over long distances

 
 

Hear The Difference Wave Sciences’ 3D Hearing Technologies Make

You can hear for yourself what a striking difference our technologies make in the real world by listening to the following “before” and “after” recordings. The first is what listening to someone across a table in a busy restaurant would sound like to someone who has lost their 3D hearing. The second is that same bit of poetry listened to through our experimental clothes. The difference can be heard, loud and clear.

 

The Problems with Existing Hearing Technologies

Human hearing is amazing, but when yours is compromised and in need of replacement, hearing technologies on the market today suffer from serious problems that limit their use. For example, even the most advanced hearing aids and other hearing assistive technologies costing thousands of US dollars have astonishing levels of user complaints about their inabilities to distinguish voices in crowded situations; squealing; amplification of noises; wind noise rumble; and social awkwardness because of how they look and because they require cooperation, repetition, and raised voices.

Unsurprisingly given such complaints, according to a variety of surveys, only 2% of older adults with significant hearing loss use hearing aids or other existing assistive technologies and only 12% of those who do wear them were satisfied with the current technology for hearing in noise. Even for expensive hearing aids with special noise reduction filters, 95% of their users still experienced difficulties hearing in noise even when using the filters. Looking to the future, given that voice is increasingly becoming THE way we interact with many electronic devices, the problems will likely only get worse without a better solution.

Why hasn’t technology been able to solve these problems and why are people with normal hearing so much better at hearing in noise and crowds? The answer is simple: just as two eyes let us see in 3D and use visual depth perception to focus on and distinguish objects, human hearing uses two ears to hear in 3D so that our acoustic depth perception can focus on and distinguish individual sounds from a noisy “cocktail party” background. Hearing aids are limited in their ability to replace that lost 3D depth perception because of their physical constraints and what even the most tolerant of users would be willing to put up with every day.

How Our Technologies Solve The Problems

Our ground-breaking solutions listen in 3D, where you want to hear, not “off to one side” or “behind,” so that you can focus on and distinguish voices. Even the best existing technologies pick up many sounds from the left, right, below, and above where you are trying to listen to - these undesired pickup regions are called “side lobes.” In quiet environments, like at home, side lobes are not an issue, since there are not many annoying sounds to be picked up. However, in crowded, noisy environments like shopping malls, restaurants, and airports, there are many interfering sounds to be picked up and amplified by the side lobes of existing technologies. Wave Sciences’ technologies hear loud and clear because we reject these annoying sounds. You can see the technical difference in the illustrations of “their“ best and “our” least sophisticated pickup patterns below.

Theirs (L) versus Ours (R)

In real-world environments, which frequently have loud noises and multiple talkers, our technologies can distinguish a desired voice loud and clear, even from far away, while still being inherently resistant to feedback squeal and wind noise. We also solve the problem of social awkwardness by embedding our patented technologies in everyday items such as clothes, tablet covers, and phone cases. They can even be incorporated into ceiling tiles, mirrors, picture frames, automobile visors, signs, front porch light bulbs, car doors/bumpers/grills, conference tables, mail boxes, door frames, furniture, light fixtures, and many other locations to allow voices to be recognized and understood. The possibilities for helping people by enabling hearing in noise, in crowds, and over distance are numerous and Wave Sciences is here to help.

To see how well our technologies could work in crowded environments, an internationally-acclaimed hearing research hospital performed comparison testing between our “hearing vest” experimental smart garment (colored red in the plot below), a traditional omni-directional hearing aid (teal), a top-shelf directional hearing aid (purple), and an interview-style wireless directional microphone that is pointed at the desired talker (blue). The tests were scientifically conducted in an acoustic chamber with realistic levels of desired speech (coming from the zero degree direction) and interfering multi-talker speech (coming from all other sides, including behind). The test results clearly showed that our vest (red) picked up significantly less sound from the interfering talkers, while not isolating the wearer completely from the environment. Our ground-breaking technology picked up the desired talker BETTER or JUST AS WELL from ahead, from off to the side, from directly from the side, from behind and to the side, from straight behind, and from all other directions as ALL of the existing technologies.

Comparison Testing

In conclusion, Wave Sciences’ technologies enable:

  • Hearing in noise, including multi-talker environments

  • Hearing in both the near and far fields (i.e., across a table and across a room)

  • Hearing indoors and outdoors, including windy conditions

  • Embedding in clothing, smart devices, or accessories

  • Hands-free devices that even work in noisy and windy environments

  • Variable direction of listening

  • Higher gain without feedback squeal allows users with hearing loss to more easily achieve their prescriptive amplification targets

  • Less fatigue from straining to hearing and understand

  • Conversations that flow at their natural pace. Our 3D hearing technology is fully implemented in our embedded electronics, so there is no delay while things are sent to the cloud for processing.