CES awarded its Best Of Innovations to a device designed to alleviate hearing damage and tinnitus suffered by deployed soldiers. In the past, a soldier's awareness of their environment was compromised by hearing protection devices. Thus, they ignored risks to their hearing in favor of being aware of risks to their life.
The Design and Engineering Award in the Health and Wellness category is well deserved as extensive and exacting testing shows. The experiments were intended to determine how selected military hearing protection and enhancement devices could affect a soldier's hearing ability to localize a gunshot, as compared to an unprotected ear, and to determine how a common military vehicle such as a heavy truck diesel masking noise influences the soldier's localization ability.
The high fidelity Electronic BlastPLG earplugs were developed by Etymotic Research. Other designs are simply noise canceling. Etymotic's version is noise isolating, accomplished with technology and by creating a seal in the ear channel.
You can even answer your iPhone while wearing them. The company developed two versions. EB 1 is for hunters, so they can hear their prey in the forest, but not suffer damage from blasts from their own or companion's rifles.
EB15 is a higher grade for those who operate loud machinery, and for soldiers exposed to noisy military vehicles who also need to be able to locate the source of gunfire and explosions.
Both versions use a new adaptation of the company's original high-fidelity K-AMP integrated circuit. When there are no loud noises, the EB15 functions as if nothing is in the ears to block sound, and the wearer can hear naturally. Dr. Mead Killion, inventor and founder of Etymotic says:
EB15 circuitry is configured with adaptive attenuation to become a 15-dB earplug when noise levels put the user at increased risk for hearing damage. The EB15 also has a switch that will boost faint sounds. In addition to soldiers, musicians, front of house personnel, DJs and others who work in a noisy environment, but need to hear clearly, can benefit from the EB15.
Other hearing-related Innovation Honorees were, in no particular order:
- Able Planet with an assistive listening device that improves comprehension in difficult listening environments
- Beltone Electronics with Beltone True, a proprietary digital wireless communication system that connects the hearing impaired to the outside world
- Starkey Laboratories brought OtoLens, an invisible-in-the-canal hearing aid that is custom built for each patient's unique ear for comfort and performance.
Etymotic, a research, development and manufacturing company, is the original inventor of in-ear earphones. They are located in Chicago, Illinois and can be found in booth #4018 in the iLounge Pavilion, North Hall.