“Leave your name and number at the tone. S l o w l y.”
Susan’s father is in his 90s. His mind is sharp. He has no problem using his mobile for phone and even video calls. Unlike the younger generation, he still uses voicemail, wants to listen to messages and call people back. That’s why he recorded a special message for people trying to reach him, requesting they leave their number, speaking slowly.
Having to strain to catch what someone else is saying is both annoying and stressful. This phenomenon is not necessarily a function of a hearing problem (although it may be). Some people are simply “fast talkers,” people who speak more quickly than most, making it hard to catch everything they say. There are several additional situations where rapid speech could be a problem that makes us wish it were possible to slow down the words of the person on the other side of the phone:
- Age – As we age our reflexes become slower. In the same vein, the gap between hearing and comprehension increases i.e., it takes more time for the brain to process the sound and translate it into meaning.
- Geography – In the U.S.A, for example, the southern drawl is very different from the clipped speech of a New Yorker. The trend to use offshore employees for customer support introduces unfamiliar accents. When someone sounds different than what we are used to hearing, their speech is harder for our brain to process.
- Language – different languages are spoken at different paces, and it can be challenging to keep up with a conversation that is not in your native tongue.
EasyListenTM technology is integrated into BeHear hearing amplification headsets, enabling users to slow down speech during mobile calls and while listening to voice messages.
For people experiencing even mild hearing loss, EasyListenTM technology to slow down speech can be particularly helpful. Hearing degradation affects our ability to hear certain sounds that make up words, such as the letters and letter combinations f, s, sh, th, etc. In this case the brain needs extra time to determine what was said, based on overall context. In such cases, people often find themselves unduly tired without realizing that this is caused by the added strain and stress of trying to decipher words that have become unclear.
“Time stretching” technologies for speech modification are not new. EasyListenTM differs from these, creating a more complex and intelligent standard for the dynamic real-time control of speech. Sophisticated speech analysis is performed, and only those parts that are important for understanding, but just too fast, are slowed down to the extent that is necessary. This is how the speech is slowed down, without altering the natural feel of the conversation:
- Natural pauses occur in each typical conversation (such as when the speaker takes a breath). Shortening such pauses is used to reduce the delay that is generated by slowing down the audio signal. However, if the speaker talks fast continuously, with no pauses, EasyListenTM will gradually stop slowing down his/her monologue when the maximal allowed delay is exceeded.
EasyListenTM technology is language-independent and works equally well with Western and Eastern tonal languages. It can be activated during mobile (cell) phone calls only, not during live conversations or television/movie viewing.
BeHear hearing amplification headsets are designed to help make life sound better, particularly for people with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss. There are numerous benefits to reducing the strain of trying to hear or trying to keep up with someone who is simply speaking too fast, including: stress reduction, increased well-being, and more pleasant interpersonal connections.