Sometimes simple inventions can have a profound impact on the daily lives of millions of people. Here are three that, while they don't promise to restore sight to the blind, aren't far off.
Nuance Audio: Glasses for listening
We didn't expect that EssilorLuxottica, the world's largest manufacturer of glasses and contact lenses, would make such a splash at the beginning of the year – literally and figuratively – with new glasses that, of course, allow vision correction when necessary, but the also improve the hearing of those who wear them.
The parent company of well-known brands such as Oakley and Ray-Ban recently acquired the Israeli company Nuance Hearing and is therefore today able to unveil a new range of products called Nuance Audio.
Nuance Audio glasses have essentially the same features as other similar products, but with the addition of microphones, headphones and a Bluetooth antenna. Despite this electronic addition, they have a reasonable overall weight of 40 grams. They take two and a half hours to charge their battery using a small dedicated wireless pad.
This is where the comparison with other brands ends (actually Ray-Ban and Meta). Because Nuance glasses are not aimed at an audience that is looking for a way to listen to music or make phone calls without using traditional headphones. They are aimed at people who suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss and are reluctant to invest in a professional hearing aid.
Similar to modern Bluetooth headphones, Nuance glasses can eliminate some ambient noise and improve the sound of a source in front of you. They make the voice of a conversation partner clearer, the volume of which can be adjusted directly through the glasses or through a mobile application.
The price of Nuance lenses is unknown, but we suspect it will be well below the $1,000 to $4,000 that a professional hearing aid can cost. And they'll look better when they go on sale, likely later this year.
It's not easy to make a call when you have a voice or speech disorder, for example if you stutter or, even worse, if you have dysphasia. The emergence of video calling applications does not help to facilitate the expression of opinions by people who cannot express themselves orally as they would like.
This is where the Whispp mobile app comes into play. The application is installed on an iPhone or Android phone and acts as a voice or video calling service that brings more than just minor improvements! – the tone of voice to make it completely natural. Unlike text-to-text apps that convert text to speech, Whispp is instant and doesn't require a keyboard. We can whisper words to her, which she then passes on loudly to the person she is talking to on the other end of the (cordless) telephone.
Whispering protects the vocal cords. In many cases, this also reduces stuttering. In short, it solves many problems. As a bonus, the application uses artificial intelligence, which also learns to reproduce the user's voice. The goal of the people behind Whispp is clearly to give their voice back to the approximately 300 million people around the world who can no longer fully use it.
The Whispp app is already available in the Apple and Google app stores. It's free to download, but costs between $10 and $20 per month to use.
Sony Access: Video games different
We talked about this last spring, Sony finally released its Access controller, aimed at video game enthusiasts who hate traditional controllers whose buttons are too small, too close together or too similar.
The Access controller was developed in collaboration with gamers who suffer from a motor disorder that makes it impossible to use the controller sold with the PlayStation 5 console. It's an ingenious, lightweight and comfortable accessory no matter your position. Game. The bottom of the controller is flat, so you can place it on your lap or on a table instead of having to constantly hold it in your hand.
The large buttons that make up the rounded keypad can be customized in around thirty ways to simplify operation and improve response time – a crucial element in any good video game. The whole thing is rounded off by an oversized broom handle, which is also very practical. It certainly lacks the lively feedback of more traditional controllers, and we would have liked a few more buttons or a touchpad. You also can't pair this controller with a phone or tablet to remotely control your PS5, but you can pair more than one controller. Maybe it will be a second generation? Who knows, with Sony…
What's certain is that this $120 accessory will make many people want to play again.
Sometimes technology is so simple.