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Impairment or not, you might want these new hearing aids

A new device released last week by Starkey Hearing Technologies has functions that go way beyond helping the audibly impaired hear better. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

A longstanding hearing aid company has introduced a new device that goes beyond assisting the audibly impaired — and its features are so advanced that developers claim it will completely disrupt the industry.

What are the details?

Last week, Starkey Hearing Technologies rolled out a device called the Livio A.I. It uses artificial intelligence to improve hearing by use of a wireless microphone utilized by sensors constantly monitoring a user's acoustic environment. The device is capable of streaming phone calls, music, or television directly into a user's ears.

It can also track their steps, keep count of how many minutes they spend chatting with people in a day, and even detects if a wearer has fallen.

But one function of the space-aged hearing aids that is making headlines is its language translation tool. While wearing the Livio A.I., a user who hears a foreign language being spoken can have it translated into their native tongue and whispered into their ears. Twenty-seven languages are currently available for translation using the function.

"You can have two-way communication, applying amplification for you," Starkey's chief innovation officer, Dr. Dave Fabry, told KPIX-TV. "Whether you have hearing loss or normal hearing, it opens up the World Wide Web right into your head!"

Speaking with Wired, Chief Technology Officer Dr. Achin Bhowmik said, "When Steve Jobs launched the iPhone, he totally disrupted a perfectly good cellphone market by making it into a multipurpose device. What Apple did to the smartphone, we're going to do to the hearing aid."

Getting your hands on a Livio A.I. means making a purchase through an audiologist, and it will cost at least $3,000 for a pair, and could be more than $7,000 according to Wired.

Anything else?

CEO William Austin purchased Starkey in 1967 and has since built it into a multibillion dollar firm. Now, he and his wife spend more than 150 days a year helping the hearing impaired in vulnerable populations in the U.S. and abroad through the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

Of the estimated 466 million people worldwide who have some level of hearing loss, only about 50 million use a hearing aid.

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