So I have this hope that if the time comes when – ehhh, what did you say??? – I may need one of these devices, they will be considered normal… Everyone will be wearing them.
Well it seems like we may be headed in that direction as Panasonic has its new R1-W digital hearing instrument which the company says is designed to fit discreetly behind the ear. But what caught my attention was the device’s ability to record up to five 2-minute and 40-second recorded files for voice memos, phone numbers, etc.
Moreover it comes with a Hearing Hub, a device which allows you to manage the hearing aid so as to connect it to your TV audio or your cellphone via bluetooth. Obviously this Hearing Hub thing needs to become an app at some point and work on a smartphone – hopefully my eyes will hold out long enough to use one.
So what we really have here is a personal assistant and media hub – all in one device which you can honestly tell people is not a hearing aid. What’s that you say? No, it’s not a hearing aid; it’s a personal multimedia assistant. Wait, don’t take it out – or I won’t be able to hear a word you say.
The interesting thing here is if the speech recognition technology which Apple has popularized with Siri continues to improve to a point where it can handle all phone functions we may be close to the world featured in the movie Minority Report where the phone looked like a hearing aid.
So if my ears can just last a little longer, everyone will be wearing one of these. And what a cool world that could be… Instead of fumbling for my cell, I’ll be able to press a button on my hearing aid/phone, cue up my Ozzy voice and sing Mama, I’m Coming Home.