I consider myself very fortunate to be able to buy a quality hearing aid. But even with a hearing aid there are times where I hear people talking, but I cannot make out what they are actually saying. It is especially difficult at work, in large conference rooms with a lot of very soft spoken people and a lot of people where English is not their first language. To have a tool to aid in those situations would alleviate a lot of frustrations. Not to mention, I am sure I annoy folks with the constant requests to repeat what they said.
Awhile ago I bought an inexpensive (waterproof) hearing aid to wear while rafting. It was great to use, as I would have had to gone without as I cannot risk getting my good hearing aid wet. It did help me hear while rafting, but it really gave me an appreciation of the difference in quality between my good, expensive hearing aid and the low quality, cheap hearing aid. To have inexpensive tools to aid in communication would help to enrich a lot of people's lives immeasurably.
Mr. Will Ober is a Mechanical Engineer in the Advanced Systems Group (ASG) at Boston Engineering Corporation. He currently heads up ASG’s efforts in the area of Tactical, mission-agnostic, human-environment-system interfacing and is the lead engineer for the DARPA Design of Robot Control Interfaces SBIR. He has years of experience working on projects sponsored by the US Navy, US Army, and DARPA, including design and testing of advanced underwater systems, unmanned and autonomous robotic platforms, robotic manipulators and end effectors. Mr. Ober has experience with robotic test and evaluation with regards to human/robot teaming and capabilities, and recently was part of a DARPA funded evaluation team for the DARPA Robotics Challenge in this respect.