[hackerspaces] Hearing aids

Lisha Sterling lishevita at gmail.com
Wed Oct 24 17:35:07 CEST 2012

I've been thinking about this since my dad got his hearing aids. He
put it off for more than two years after getting a test that proved
that he really did need hearing aids and yes, they would help. The
reason he put it off is because they were so damned expensive. The
cheapest decent ones were $2500 per ear!! Finally, the VA ended up
buying his hearing aids for him since there was a clear linkage
between his military service and his hearing loss. But, then, after
getting the things, he had to go back a couple of times for
adjustments before they got everything perfect.

I kept questioning why these things should be more expensive than a
decent laptop. "Because they're so small." OK, so why are they more
expensive than a high end telephone? "Because they have super
high-tech magic in them!"

OK, yes, there are some complex things going on in the software. There
is some sort of communication between the two hearing aids, I've been
told, though I don't know why or what exactly that inter-hearing-aid
communication is actually doing to improve the sound experience.

A lot of the basics of hearing aid software probably can and should be
created rather quickly in an open source program. Then we just need
the hardware. I've seen an Instructable on how to create high quality
ear monitors (like earbuds but molded to your own ears). We could use
that as a base to jump from to create open hardware hearing aids.

I have another, related, idea to build an eeg-controlled headband with
animal ears [cat ears, dog ears, mouse ears, etc] and microphones. The
eeg interface would let you swivel the ears and maybe perk them up.
Little microphones inside the ear canal of the ears would send sound
to a processor in the headband that would adjust the tones up/down as
appropriate to allow you to hear things normally outside your range
and then to the monitors in your ears, allowing you to hear "like a

Thing is, the research and work for the one would easily feed into the other.

- Lisha


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