I have been binging on Netflix’s "Daredevil," watching Charlie Cox use his super-powered hearing to pick sounds out of the air, to hear things no ordinary person could. These days I feel like I have super powers just like Daredevil as I try out the latest hearables from Resound.
I first wrote about hearables, the devices formerly known as hearing aids, about six months ago. They are not your grandpa’s hearing aids and they are not just for old people; 1 in 5 teens already have hearing loss, probably due to headphone use.
The ReSound LiNX are my current wireless headphones. They connect to my iPhone, turning them into a fitness app, podcast player and Google map reader, but there's much more. Using the GPS integration, I can walk into my classroom at Ryerson University and these hearables adjust to my students’ quiet voices. I can have presets for the different places I hang out in or the different people I hang out with. I think they are pretty fantastic.
But they are just the first version. Now I'm trying out the upgrade, the LiNX2 hearables, and they have all kinds of new Daredevil-ish features. There are new trademarked features like Spatial Sense, which gives “a vivid sense of where sounds are coming from." That's important if someone is sneaking up behind you with a baseball bat.
But the fun really begins when you connect with the iPhone or your new Apple Watch, with which I now can do all kinds of things that you poor normal-eared people can’t. With the new upgraded app, if I'm in a restaurant, I can dial down the cloud of noise surrounding me. I can focus on my dining partner and adjust the angle of the cone of silence. In a noisy restaurant on Saturday night, I was able to tune out the hockey game playing at the bar (They play hockey in Tampa?) and actually hear the conversation.
At a staff meeting at the university, I couldn’t hear the speaker because I was sitting right under a noisy air handling unit. I flipped into restaurant mode and tuned out the noise, went to the narrowest focus and it was much better. Truly super.
Then there is the new outdoor mode, where I can dial out wind noise and other background noise separately. I only tried this once, riding my bike home from school, and I did not give it a good workout because I would have to stop my bike and dig out my phone every time I wanted to adjust it. However I suspect that had I been wearing an Apple Watch, I would be adjusting it a whole lot more.
In fact, I think the only reason I would buy an Apple Watch would be to control my hearables. The triangulation of a computer in my pocket, a remote on my wrist and what amount to a really good invisible pair of Bluetooth headphones on my head will be a powerful setup.
A lot of people resist getting hearing aids, considering them “an unwelcome reminder of the aging process.” That's because they don't know what these things can do. I have GPS-enabled equalizers, balance and volume controls for my ears. I am wired, better connected to the world than ever, hearing not only the people around me but anything in the world that my phone can connect to. Even Daredevil can’t do that.
More on what they call "smart hearing" at ReSound.
Related on MNN and TreeHugger:
- Are headphones bad for your hearing?
- Hearing loss in women tied to pain relievers
- Testing the ReSound LiNX wearable tech (because you can’t just call them hearing aids)