For people with hearing loss, it’s all too easy to miss important sounds like doorbells, alarm clocks, fire alarms and running water. New technology by Neosensory allows users to feel these sounds.
What Is the Neosensory Buzz?
The Neosensory Buzz is worn on the wrist like a watch or fitness tracker. It converts sounds into dynamic patterns of vibrations, mimicking the ear’s cochlea by sending vibrations via the nervous system to the brain. This essentially creates another sensory channel from the environment to the brain’s auditory processing center.
The Buzz was created by David Eagleman, Ph.D., Stanford University neuroscientist, and Scott Novich, Ph.D., who began researching sensory substitutions for the deaf back in 2013. Their technology focuses on sending data streams to the brain via sense of touch, otherwise known as haptic feedback.
“The brain is locked in a vault of silence and darkness inside your skull, yet it constructs this whole world for us,” explained Dr. Eagleman. “Your brain doesn’t know and it doesn’t care where it gets the data from. It is fundamentally always trying to get information across the senses. Whatever information comes in, it just figures out what to do with it.”
The Buzz has three different modes that can be programmed via smartphone app:
- Everyday mode: Adjusts to the wearer’s surroundings and cancels out unnecessary background noise
- Sleep mode: Filters out sleep sounds like snoring while still alerting the wearer to emergency signals like sirens and smoke alarms
- Music mode: Allows user to feel the pulse of the beat as well as the nuances of the melody
There is also an alarm setting, and users can customize their preferred vibration pattern.
Cost of Buzz
There are multiple buying options for Buzz:
- A one-time purchase for $399
- A subscription for $99 plus $15 per month for two years
Drs. Eagleman and Novich are planning to launch another device designed for people with high-frequency hearing loss in 2021. This device will use the same hardware programmed with different algorithms to capture difficult-to-distinguish high-frequency sounds and converting them into particular vibrations on a specific part of the wrist. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Columbia Hearing Centers today.