Listening accurately is all about direction. It’s the power that lets you carry on a conversation in a loud bar, and hear where sounds are coming from. But for anyone trying to record sounds – or anyone who has impaired hearing – those sounds can be lost.
Directional microphones can solve that problem, but they have an additional one: size. Some of the more directional mics are simply huge.
That’s where Wear becomes interesting. Emmy-winning engineer and AV specialist Eric Rosenthal teamed up with designer and sound artist Michelle Temple, and they’ve created a new solution. (Rosenthal is an ITP/NYU teacher; Michelle a graduate.)
Unlike expensive, huge directional mics, Wear is affordable (you can even build it as a kit). It’s small and light enough that you can comfortably wear it around your neck, and the design they’ve produced wouldn’t clash with any girls’ or boys’ style. That combination means that for the first time, just about anyone who might benefit from directionality can take advantage of this tech for assistive hearing.
Of course, Wear doesn’t only assist the hearing of humans – it does the same for recording devices, too. So you might use this as a wearable mic or plug it into a recorder or computer, while still making use of its quality and directionality, whether you’re on Skype or recording a podcast or lecture.
Michelle, I might add, is an alumnus of CDM’s New York edition of Musicmakers/Handmade Music series, where she used microphones in a live performance. I hope we catch up more on her work soon. You can see that first piece on Dangerous Minds:
Through Sunday, January 12, you can get in on the project. Kits are available for US$50 (not including shipping), available in May, and fully-assembled Wear mics start at US$165, shipping in September.
Kickstarter page, which has lots of additional video demos (including a testimonial from a young woman who lost some of her hearing following surgery – a reminder that this can impact any of us):
Wear — A wearable personal assistive hearing device