The line between wearable technology and prosthetics is blurring
BY DOMINIC BASULTO July 2
Remember when wearing any kind of prosthetic device – even something as simple as a hearing aid – immediately marked you as being somehow afflicted with some sort of physical deficiency? Those days could soon be over thanks to the emerging number of ways that wearable technology is changing how and why we use technology to improve our five human senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.
Importantly, it’s not just athletes who are turning into “superhuman” performers as the result of using the new generation of high-tech prosthetics. It’s also average people with a sense of style who are designing new types of prosthetics that look nothing like the prosthetics of the past – they are stylish, sleek and designed for the high-tech lifestyle. In other words, wearing them may no longer stigmatize you.
Take hearing, for example. In the past, you’d buy a prosthetic device – a hearing aid – that would help you overcome a hearing deficiency. Wearing one in public would mark you — unfairly, of course — as someone whose auditory skills were on the decline. People who saw you wearing a hearing aid would assume that you were “old” – with all the negative connotations that term carries in a society centered around youth.
Fast-forward to 2014 and now wearing a hearing aid could mean having access to enhanced hearing that makes you the envy of your friends.Soundhawk’s new “smart listening system” basically turns you into a “hawk,” in the sense that you can pick out sounds from anywhere, focus on them, and tune out the noise. Soundhawk also plays nice with your smartphone, meaning that you can have a superior hearing and communication experience when interacting with others while making a call in a loud room or on a busy street. That may not immediately sound like a big deal, but how many times when using your smartphone do you ask your friends or colleagues to repeat what they just said? How many times have you missed an important point at a loud, crowded restaurant?