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Music to my brother’s ears

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  1. Music to my brother’s ears Why (and how) we created new audio products for hearing impaired persons Company Confidential Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. © 2009

  2. Prepared for Positive Lifestyles Panel (Friesen Conference 23 April 2009) By Morley Lipsett (semi-retired) SFU Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology and Earl Lipsett(retired musician/educator) With inspiration from Naftaly Ramrajkar (Product developer, audiophile & sage) Introduction

  3. My brother (and his ears) Meet the guy that introduced me to classical music 65 years ago

  4. Predicament & the germ of an idea • My visit to Edmonton • Aging ears – and in a hospital • What, no iPod? • How hearing loss became a virtue

  5. My ‘cool’ gear (on the plane)

  6. Meanwhile at the hospital • Physical discomfort • No tv • No CDs • No audio-visual enjoyment available • My iPod unsuited to Earl’s ears, with or without hearing aid. So I went shopping for a remedy. –None existed!

  7. And this begins our story -

  8. Disconnects Hearing aid culture • Invisibility • Low power/tiny battery • Not mp3-friendly • Limited dynamic range tiny transducers low voltage • Annoying to wear; easy to misplace • Associated with ageism iPod culture • Cool • Visible & fashionable • Superb sound quality for ‘normal hearing’ • Music, music, music • Trendy earphones But • neglects personal hearing deficits Company Confidential - Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. © 2009

  9. Not enjoyed (yet)by persons with hearing loss Such as • Rock Musicians • Age related (Boomers) • Pilots • Occupational damage • Slow degradation over time Most everyone, sooner or later In fact • Most people don’t know what they’ve been missing • They just gradually got used to • less brilliance • lack of localization • reduced clarity • muffled sounds Company Confidential - Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. © 2009 9

  10. Hearing acuity • Often assumed • Not normally measured until deafness is suspected Frequently a matter of opinion rather than accurately assessed. Company Confidential - Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. © 2009

  11. Yet audiograms are like eye exams • Person with hearing loss • Person with ‘normal’ hearing Company Confidential - Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. © 2009

  12. So we set out • To match the sounds of the world • To Earl’s hearing spectrum By using musician-quality equipment. (i.e. audiophile, hi-fidelity, studio-quality stuff) Company Confidential - Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. © 2009

  13. Technical objectives • Restore audiophile listening experience i.e. beyond today’s youth • For recorded performances and • Live events Company Confidential - Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. © 2009

  14. How we did it (eventually) • Implementation • Developed a special, prototype interface device to precisely compensate (SpectraPhonics Normalizer technology) • Fed studio quality earphones/headphones (as used by artists and audiophiles) Company Confidential - Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. © 2009 14

  15. Obvious, perhaps, but unavailable Company Confidential - Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. ©2009

  16. Demo Company Confidential - Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. (c) 2009

  17. We got it to work! At first with headphones and CD’s

  18. Then with mics, ready for rehearsals Company Confidential - Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. (c) 2009

  19. Company Confidential - Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. (c) 2009

  20. Resulting experience (field trials) • Like putting on glasses and seeing clearly - again. • 20/20 listening • Thrilling! Company Confidential - Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. ©2009

  21. Technology & Gerontology • Today’s media - MP3/Video players, video games, downloaded content, and live performances rely on hearing. • Yet hearing profile (loss) has been and continues to be neglected by these markets • Except for hearing aids • Which are marketed as if for the infirm, the old, the defective. Company Confidential - Bowen Innovation Consultants, Ltd. (c) 2009

  22. Our ‘positive lifestyles’ vision to make it cool to be custom fitted for ‘ear glasses’. • Let’s enjoy 20/20 listening; Let’s redefine ‘normal’!

  23. Any questions?Does anybody here care to get involved in this work? We wish to thank all of you, and a special thanks to the conference organizers ...M & E