soundfun-mirai-speaker-doctorJapanese company Soundfun is experimenting with a new speaker that outputs sounds in a way that can be more easily perceived by older people. Unfortunately, most people over the age of 60 will develop some kind of hearing loss. This is commonly known as presbyacusis in medical terms, and the symptom is that people slowly lose the ability to hear high-pitch sounds which are very important, especially to listen to other people’s voices.

While the cause of presbyacusis is still under the subject of research, many factors are thought to affect hearing, including stress, exposure to noise, side effects of medications or even “being overweight” – in short, we don’t know for sure.

The Mirai Speaker is designed to take a sound input, and replay it at a frequency and intensity that can be more easily perceived by someone who is affected by hearing loss. So far, Soundfun has conducted experiments that have been deemed successful enough to expand their tests outside of Japan.

The curved carbon-fiber piece is critical to the speaker's function, according to its creators

The curved carbon-fiber piece is critical to the speaker’s function, according to its creators

At this point, more research needs to be done, but the end-game is to first install these speakers in hospitals, doctors offices and other locations where they could have the most impact. Subsequently, a consumer version of the product could be used in homes.

Most likely, if this was truly successful, other brands may develop an interest for this market since the population is aging rapidly in a number of industrialized countries. I’ve never tried wearing a hearing aid device, but I’ve been told that it’s not such a great experience, so I can easily imagine that having a less invasive experience would be that much better for simple thing such as speaking on a speakerphone, or watching TV.

Filed in Audio >Medical. Read more about and .