July 2021 Newsletter
BeHear technology advancements
Articles in this issue include:
♦ NEW RELEASE: BeHear.ACCESS just got new hyper-advanced features normally only found in the most sophisticated hearing aids.
♦ “I never imagined I would love BeHear PROXY more than my Dyson!”- BeHear.PROXY video review.
♦ BeHear EasyListen™ -hear better with the technology that slows down speech in real time.
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The BeHear.ACCESS hearing amplification headset gains hyper-advanced hearing aid functionality
Alango Technologies, a leading independent supplier of DSP voice and audio enhancement software technologies for the communication industry, announced the release of a new, advanced version of its BeHear.ACCESS hearing amplification headset.
ACCESS is a hearable that provides personalized hearing amplification users can self-tune in real time via the companion app. ACCESS looks like a standard Bluetooth headset, but the device is powered by Alango Technologies proprietary audio enhancement and customization software, giving users hearing aid quality technology at a fraction of the cost. ACCESS belongs to the BeHear line of smart hearing amplifiers, designed to help those with mild-to-moderately-severe hearing loss hear better during face-to-face conversations, mobile and video calls, and when listening to music and sounds in nature.
This already sophisticated product received an upgrade that added hyper-advanced hearing aid functionality: 3 features that are normally found only in top-of-the-line hearing aids. Users can define the direction from which to amplify and clarify important sounds, as well as the extent to which they hear their own voice. Additionally, people with unilateral or “single-sided” hearing will benefit from new CROS/BiCROS functionality, which transfers sounds from the non-hearing side to the hearing ear.
Advanced hearing aid functionality: SoundFocus™ for better understanding of speech in noise
Difficulty understanding conversation in noisy environments is a widespread problem. Standard hearing amplifiers increase the volume of all sounds. SoundFocus, on the other hand, adds a new level of customization on top of the existing ACCESS background noise reduction feature. Users can now define which sounds will be amplified by choosing amongst three degrees of directionality:
- “Narrow” focuses in on sound directly in front of the user. This setting is best for one-on-one conversations, especially in noisy environments.
- “Wide” amplifies sound in a 180-degree half-circle in front of the wearer. It is useful when larger groups are conversing.
- “Omni” collects important sounds from all directions, suitable for example, when outdoors or at a concert.
Advanced hearing aid functionality: alleviating the “My Voice Echoes” perception
A typical downside of wearing any pair of earbuds is the “occlusion effect”; a perceived echo of your own voice when your ear canal is sealed. BeHear.ACCESS offers maximum comfort with a new feature in the W&H BeHear app that allows users to control how much of their own voice they hear.
Advanced hearing aid functionality: support for unilateral hearing (CROS/BiCROS)
Features correcting for unilateral hearing loss are typically found only in high-end hearing aids. Many people avoid using hearing aids due to their high cost, social stigma, difficulty in tuning them, etc. Implementing CROS/BiCROS in BeHear.ACCESS provides those with single-sided hearing the ability to choose this hearable, rather than being limited to hearing aids as a solution.
When activated, the function takes effect for all ACCESS hearing modes: Personal Hearing, Mobile Calls, and Audio Play. Sound from the non-hearing side is transferred to the speaker in the ear bud of the hearing ear. Streamed stereo audio is mixed automatically down to mono and reproduced in the functional ear, thus allowing people to enjoy the full sound spectrum without missing out on sounds that would have fallen on the damaged ear.
Technology can help overcome our bodies’ limitations
“Hearing well in noisy environments is always a challenge, but especially so for those with hearing loss,” says Dr. Alexander Goldin, Founder and CEO of Alango Technologies. “We are democratizing hearing, making even advanced features like CROS/BiCROS available in a hearable that is affordable and easy to use. This is deeply satisfying.”
About Alango Technologies
Alango Technologies, Ltd. has been developing sound enhancement technologies since 2002, selling over 60 million software licenses that improve the audio experience in automotive, entertainment, and smart home applications around the world. Realizing the importance and opportunity of combining the sound enhancement technology found in hearing aids with the advances and costs in the consumer electronics world, the Company is now using its field-proven expertise in sound technology to create products for personal hearing enhancement: the “BeHear” product line.
Also published online on MarketWatch.
I can listen to a podcast whilst mowing the lawn!
Before buying the BeHear ACCESS, I had NHS behind-the-ear hearing aids for five years and needed them to be readjusted after three. This required waiting for an appointment with the audiologist. Luckily that was before Covid and the lockdowns. One of the great things about the BeHear hearables is that if I feel my hearing has deteriorated, I can just use the built-in hearing assessment any time I like (lockdown or not) and save the settings in the App’s library.
My original reason for moving on from my hearing aids, was I wanted to use Bluetooth. My hobby is Family History and our U3A group face to face meetings had had to be cancelled during lockdown, so we trialed Zoom meetings with great success. Unfortunately, my laptop sound is not of sufficient quality or level for my hearing, and I was losing a lot of the conversation.
I researched a number of available Bluetooth adapters such as neck loops as well as hearables products, and although there are other hearables that also have a self-assessment feature, the BeHear wearables looked to be the only ones that could offer the range of features I was looking for and the level of audio gain that my high frequency hearing loss required.
When I had my NHS (National Health Service) hearing aids readjusted previously I had also had the Telecoil feature enabled as I had found theatre acoustics and reverberation a problem. The BeHear ACCESS provided the perfect solution with the in-built Telecoil.
Having had the BeHear ACCESS for a while now, I have been very pleased with the purchase. There are a number of activities that have improved that I had not considered originally; for example, I can listen to a podcast whilst mowing the lawn or adjust the sound settings on the fly for a difficult sound situation. The wind noise (with or without the supplied wind mufflers) is much less of a problem than with the BTE.
With the extra boost these give to my high frequency hearing, I can appreciate bird song again.
Finally, my BTE hearing aids pick up unwanted noise from behind. This is particularly bothersome in a restaurant. Sitting with my back to a wall doesn’t solve the problem as the hard surface reflects the sound onto the hearing aids. With lockdown coming to an end I am looking forward to enjoying restaurants and theatre shows.
Negatives are few and small. The NHS hearing aids are more comfortable; I did find the earbuds a little difficult to get used to and had to use the smallest size (perhaps I have small ear canals) and they can make my ears sore if I have them in all day. The Bluetooth range would be better if it was version 5.0 rather than Version 4.2, but connection can be made to two devices e.g., laptop and phone concurrently, which is really useful.
April 2021 Newsletter
Hear what you see with BeHear
♦ Shattering disability stigma for World Hearing Day with Israeli BeHear technology enabling self-administered hearing screening
♦ BeHear ACCESS is part of the hottest new technology trend called hearables
♦ How can you avoid using our products?
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Alango – Wear & Hear Products Win Top Honors in NPTA Program
9th Annual New Product & Technology Awards (NPTA) Program Recognizes Two Wear & Hear Products
Haifa, Israel – December 28, 2020 – Alango – Wear & Hear was a two-time winner in the 2020 New Product & Technology Awards. The BeHear ACCESS assistive hearing headset received a Gold Award in the Communication Devices category, and the BeHear PROXY assistive hearing neck speaker received a Gold Award in the Lifestyle Assistive Devices category. The program, presented by the Mature Market Resource CenterSM, a national clearinghouse for the senior market, is the first awards program of its kind to recognize the most innovative products & services for older adults and their families.
BeHear ACCESS Assistive Hearing Headset Recognized in the Communication Devices Category; BeHear PROXY in the Lifestyle Assistive Devices Category
“We are pleased that our efforts to develop life-changing, high-quality, affordable, multi-functional, self-fit hearing solutions have been recognized in the 9th annual New Product & Technology Awards program this year,” stated Dr. Alexander Goldin, CEO and Founder of Alango Technologies. “Many aspects of physical, emotional and even mental health are impacted by the ability to hear. For us, these are more than products, they are a gateway to quality of life, health and wellness for those who have lost them due to problems with their auditory system.”
Entries were judged by a distinguished panel of mature market experts from across the United States for overall excellence of design, content, creativity and relevance to the senior market.
BeHear ACCESS is a Personalizable Assistive Hearing Device
BeHear ACCESS is a stylish, affordable, multi-functional, self-managed hearing enhancement device for mild-to-moderately-severe hearing loss. Housed in a high-quality Bluetooth stereo headset, it features advanced technology for personalized amplification of important sounds, based on a self-administered hearing assessment. The headset can be customized in real-time to suit all types of hearing situations: live conversations, mobile calls, music streaming, TV watching, sounds in nature, and more. Two built-in Telecoil receivers ensure best possible hearing in locales equipped with hearing loop technology.
BeHear PROXY Makes TV Watching Enjoyable Again
BeHear PROXY is a self-fit hearing amplifier that looks (and functions) like a standard Bluetooth stereo neck speaker, providing a rich listening experience for television watching, gaming, and music streaming. With the help of its extractable earphones and a dedicated smartphone app, it also provides personalizable amplification for live conversations and hands-free mobile calls. Together with the HearLink® PLUS Bluetooth audio transmitter it provides unmatched accessibility and improved language comprehension for television programs, with perfect audio-video synchronization. It is suitable for use with or without hearing aids.
About Alango Technologies
Alango Technologies, Ltd. (www.alango.com) has been developing sound enhancement technologies since 2002, selling over 50 million software licenses that improve the audio experience in automotive, entertainment, and smart home applications around the world. Realizing the importance and opportunity of combining the sound enhancement technology found in hearing aids with the advances and costs in the consumer electronics world, the Company is now using its field-proven expertise in sound technology to create products for personal hearing enhancement: the “Wear & Hear” product line (www.WearAndHear.com).
BeHear, HearLink, and Wear & Hear are registered trademarks of Alango Technologies, Ltd. in the United States. All other trademarks are the property of their respective holders.
Netflix Subtitles Are No Longer Necessary
I received my new hearing device about 10 days ago. The first time I put it on I exclaimed to my carer “amazing! I didn’t know how much my hearing has deteriorated.”Shayna Orbaum, satisfied BeHear ACCESS customer
In April of this year an article about our assistive hearing products was published in The Jerusalem Post, Israel’s most-read English news website and best-selling English newspaper. As a result, we were flooded with inquiries and purchase orders for our products in our local market. One such customer, Mrs. Shayna Orbaum, filled out our customer feedback form. Her comments are reprinted below, with permission.
Before I was able to use the device I had to do the set-up, which included performing my own assessment of how each ear received the different sounds and tones. And also pairing it with the Bluetooth on my smartphone.
The accompanying instructions are very clear with pictures and big writing. Very easy to follow.
I am able to enjoy TV so much more.
I found myself tuning in more and more to Netflix [just] so I could read the subtitles. I still love Netflix, but now am able to pick out movies from the VOD library and hear every word loud and clear.
I used to have the volume up to about 45, when now I don’t need to raise the volume to more than 28, which is comfortable for my carer.
Phone calls: what a pleasure to be able to hear so well. I don’t even have to hold the phone to my ear. The phone sits on the table or desk and I just speak normally as though I am speaking to someone nearby. I still have to try out the slow speaking mode.
I have tried medical hearing aids about 3 years ago. I just could not adjust, always hearing an echo or other noises. I went back to the audiologist about 6 or 7 times and it was determined that my ear canals are small and hearing aids are not suitable for me. I was refunded the 8,000 shekels without any problems.
I thank Hillel Fuld for his article in the Jerusalem Post about Wear & Hear.
Keep TV Volume Lower; Converse without Asking to Repeat
The measure of the BeHear Access’s capability was my wife’s request that I put it on any time she could tell I wasn’t wearing it.
Bruce Brown, editor at HealthTech Insider, recently reviewed the BeHear ACCESS personalizable hearing amplifier. With his moderately severe mid-to-high-frequency loss in both ears, Mr. Brown was well-positioned to benefit from the assistive hearing headset, which has a fitting range of mild-to-moderately severe.
“The BeHear Access hearables improved my ability to understand what my wife was saying without always asking her to repeat herself. We could both watch TV at a reasonable audio volume as I could just crank it up a bit with the hearable’s volume control.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is disturbing lifestyles for most, if not all, of us. Those with hearing loss may feel particularly affected due to social distancing, which exacerbates hearing difficulty, increasing frustration during communication attempts. Mr. Brown was able to appreciate the Wear & Hear BeHear technology in these situations. He writes:
I used the hearables’ Bluetooth connection successfully for smartphone calls and video conferences. Still, in these days of self-imposed residential sequestering, the most telling benefit for me was in conversation and watching television.”
Reducing the Curse of Isolation for People with Hearing Loss
by Dr. Alexander Goldin
♦ Social isolation is a fundamental health-related problem. This excellent article gives a lot of information about how social isolation may be related to hearing loss.
In these turbulent times brought on by the COVID-19 virus, lives of people with disabilities may be even more difficult than usual. Hearing loss greatly limits our ability to communicate. People with hearing loss often utilize other channels of information, such as lip reading, body language, and other visual cues, or even the sense of touch, to compensate for the lack of information typically received from a healthy auditory system. These days, such people may require live, face-to-face interaction with others much more than people with normal hearing. Isolation caused by preventive measures against spreading the virus deprives them of those additional information channels. While some of them can live almost normal lives in good times, compulsory physical isolation may significantly and disproportionately exacerbate their problems. It is a well-known scientific fact that hearing loss is a major health factor leading to social isolation, depression, cognitive decline, and premature dementia. If the hearing loss is not addressed in a proper and timely fashion this process of decline can accelerate rapidly.
Traditionally, hearing loss has been treated through the use of hearing aids. However, with less than 20% of hearing-impaired people in the U.S. using hearing aids, we can surely say that hearing aids have failed to provide a comprehensive solution. This is, mainly, due to 4 main factors:
1. Price: Hearing aids are extremely expensive
2. Social stigma: People don’t like hearing aids, thinking they make them look older or handicapped.
3. Limited functionality: Basic hearing aids provide hearing amplification only. Today, the most expensive, top-of-the-line hearing aids allow the wearer to make phone calls, but the quality of sound and the frequency range is still far from perfect.
4. Time to set up and tune: Hearing aids are distributed and tuned by professionals, requiring between 4-7 visits to get them adjusted properly.
In today’s reality of limited mobility and closed or restricted access to audiology services, the fourth factor is becoming a real bottleneck, even if the first three problems are somehow resolved (e.g., if high end hearing aids are distributed for free and people don’t care about how they look). For many people there is simply no way to get help. Hearing loss is not considered a life-threatening condition. Of course, it is not, but the consequences of not treating it are. The situation may become critical as cognitive decline may happen quickly and irreversibly for elderly people. We’d better not wait until too late and try to get them help ASAP.
We feel that our BeHear line of Personalized Hearing Headsets provides a good, comprehensive, and timely solution for quickly getting help for hearing loss these days. These hearables provide an advanced, no compromise, yet affordable, easily-to-operate, and fully personalizable hearing solution. And the great news is that personalization of our hearing amplification headsets does not require any professional service. It can be done easily by the user or his/her friends or relatives through a simple, intuitive, and free smartphone application.
Our BeHear hearing amplification headsets address all aspects of voice communication:
1. These hearables resolve difficulties of face-to-face communication between people confined inside their homes. Being able to communicate with a hearing-impaired person without raising your voice or, from the impaired side, without asking the speaker to talk louder, clearer, etc., may greatly reduce otherwise quickly accelerating stress and mutual antagonism. BeHear hearing amplification headsets can be a family peace saving option in many such cases.
2. Many seniors are prevented from communicating in person with their families and are relying on phone conversations to stay in touch. For those with hearing loss it is more difficult to understand phone speech because they do not have the visual cues afforded by in-person conversation. Also, phone amplification options and the sound quality of modern phones are limited. The sound options of mobile phones may also not allow suitable personalization. BeHear hearing amplification headsets resolve these problems by enabling mobile phone calls with high quality sound which is optimized for the user’s specific hearing loss. They can even slow down the voices of fast talkers, making them more intelligible, without asking them to do so.
3. People are watching more television these days. Being able to comprehend TV dialogue at normal volumes will be appreciated by other house dwellers / neighbors. When used with HearLink PLUS transmitters, BeHear hearing amplification headsets work as top-quality TV listening systems with personalized sound.
4. Stress is a big problem for people confined to a small space. Quiet, calm music is a great relaxation tool when you can hear it as it was meant to be heard. Unfortunately, hearing impaired people are often deprived of this. Listening and enjoying quiet music requires good hearing. Otherwise, people either cannot hear it, or it is too loud. There is simply no comfortable listening level. BeHear hearing amplification headsets can help resolve this difficulty, allowing people to reduce their stress.
5. Hearing better with BeHear hearing amplification headsets can help people avoid panic (typically the physical representation of fear, which is a result of feeling helpless or lacking self-confidence). When a person can hear and understand the guidelines for keeping safe they will be calmer, overall.
Last but not least, things may be getting worse in some cases and people may need to rush to hospitals. Even people actively using hearing aids rarely take them to hospitals as they are afraid of losing or damaging their very expensive devices. People without hearing help will experience difficulties in communication with the hospital staff, thus receiving unclear or inadequate treatment. The communication challenges are compounded if the staff are wearing face masks, concealing the physical clues that are useful for comprehension, and taking into account the general background noise which characterizes emergency rooms and hospital wards during a pandemic.
This situation may further increase mental stress and eventually lead or contribute to a well-known disorder called “delirium”, an acute disturbance of mental abilities. We believe that hearables from Alango BeHear can provide a hearing enhancement solution that is affordable, durable, and easy-to-use in hospital conditions.
The earlier people get help, the faster they recover, and the less it costs us as individuals and society in general.
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Joe Tomaso Reviews BeHear Assistive Hearing Headset
“They are so much better than traditional hearing aids.”
♦ In this 4-minute audio review, True Crimes podcast host Joe Tomaso (who suffers from hearing loss himself) packs in a lot of information. He brings anecdotes from his professional and personal lives to illustrate how much he likes the BeHear assistive hearing headsets. For example:
“As I’m hosting and doing production work and even editing my podcast, I am using both the BeHear ACCESS and the BeHear NOW personalized assistive hearing products. I have had traditional hearing aids and they cost me thousands of dollars. I also have used similar products that not only cost me a lot more than my BeHear devices, but they were big and clunky and not as comfortable. Also, they didn’t give me the personal hearing experience that matches BeHear.”
“My wife likes this as I’m not blasting the volume on the TV anymore.” – Joe Tomaso, True Crimes Podcast Host
“My BeHear devices are stylish and they help me hear better whether it’s live conversations, hearing better in public places, live music, cell phone calls or just listening to TV.”
“I really can’t say enough for these devices. Recently I was also able to hear birds chirping near sunrise. I have not been able to hear that sound even with my hearing aids and it’s not just what you can hear that counts. It’s what you’re missing out as well. I highly recommend these devices.”
Listen to Joe’s 4-minute review by clicking the link below:
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How W&H Has Changed Elisabeth’s Life
BeHear ACCESS Customer Shares Her Experience
♦ “The first time I truly understood the ACCESS actually works as advertised was during breakfast in the noisiest restaurant in town with friends. Midway through our meal, I realized that I was hearing the conversation just fine, and I felt my tension fall away as I relaxed and just enjoyed being with my friends.” ♦
“I am an 83-year old woman who has never worn hearing aids. When I had my hearing tested, the audiologist recommended hearing aids that cost $6,000, plus the cost of an iPhone, plus tax—roughly $7,300. I thought that was obscene! I went immediately to the internet and searched for alternatives. That’s how I found Wear & Hear. I learned that they were releasing a follow-up to the BeHear NOW, and I wanted to be one of their first customers.
It took a few months to receive my device [until the official release -Ed.], but it was worth the wait. The BeHear ACCESS is brilliant! My main problem was that my ear canal is so small I couldn’t use any combinations of the ear buds and hooks. Fearing that I wouldn’t be able to use the device, I contacted Wear & Hear and they responded immediately. Their technician suggested using it without buds or hooks. For me, that worked perfectly! I have not been self conscious about wearing it. Even people who knew I was going to be receiving the device ask me what I’m listening to. I say, “You.”
I discovered that the senior center where I attend an exercise class offers individual hearing loops, which enabled me to use Telecoil mode. I was surprised to be able to discern words in what had been mostly a wall of noise from the public address system.
The last time I attended a program at our local theatre, I heard about 20% of what the speaker said. I knew I couldn’t go back. After I received BeHear’s ACCESS, I contacted the theatre and was delighted to learn that they support Telecoil. I’ll be back!
My favorite feature is the [EasyListen -Ed.] Slow, Slower, Slowest settings with phone calls—so handy when you’re trying to listen to a fast talker! Next is ListenThrough. I have several friends who wear top-of-the-line hearing aids (we’re talking $6,000-$8,000), and they have nothing that is comparable. Most of them ask if I mind having something around my neck, and I tell them I don’t; in fact, I don’t even notice it except when the cords catch on my clothing. In any case, it’s a small inconvenience when you consider the price difference! I always point out that any high tech device is going to be obsolete in 6-12 months, and I can afford to buy a new BeHear device every year for the rest of my life for half of what one pair of high end hearing aids would cost in the first year. And, because it is rechargeable, I won’t be bothered with those pesky little batteries that die at exactly the wrong time.
One of the things I appreciate about Alango is that they have democratized hearing help by making the device compatible with an old version of Android (4.4) at a very affordable price. Their mission is to provide hearing technology to as many people as possible; however, they are not motivated solely by money—there is an altruistic element to what they are doing. To understand what I mean, everybody should read The Future Is Now: “How we can create an affordable, self-administered solution to hearing loss” with Dr. Alexander Goldin. ”
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