wear_mic

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:

THE RUMBLING OF ELECTRIC PAPER FEEDBACK: DIPTYCH BY MICHELLE TEMPLE & AIWEN WANG-HUDDLESTON

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

Eric Rosenthal bio @ Creative Technology (CTech)

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  • angstrom

    Flavor Flav should endorse this product.

  • itchy

    pretty cool mic , great job.
    and i think we had enough of flavor’s flav for this life time but thats just me.

    • Eric Rosenthal

      Thanks

  • http://nutation.net/ rseymour

    I’m deaf enough that I backed this. I hope it gets funded and I have the bravery to wear it in public. It could be really helpful in parties. I’m a bit too tall and a bit too hard of hearing to do much more than nod and pretend I’m listening in noisy environments.

    • oldsoundguy

      the “nod and smile” technique, huh? been there done that, ( and found myself agreeing with too many odd viewpoints!!)

  • TheDalaiSputnik

    I fully support the wearing of metallic-looking circular objects on people’s chests. I am Iron Man. But seriously, folks, this is one of the coolest and potentially most beneficial gadgets I’ve seen around here in quite a while. Maybe a version with the headphones built in, with cables doubling as the necklace?
    I’ve heard of percussionists wearing PZM mics around their necks in concert to cover their handheld guiros & maracas & such; this seems to be a newer implementation of that idea for self-assistance. Brilliantly implemented.

    • Eric Rosenthal

      Thank you so much.

  • Michelle Temple

    It wouldn’t be a bad endorsement “I Wear (pun) the clock so you can know the time”. Thank you for your support. As for the design suggestions – yes! We definitely want to improve and innovate with the design — that is specifically why we need funding. We’ve funded this project to what it is now, but really hope we can continue our research and development so that the project can come to full design glory. Thank you for the comments/support and a big thank you to Peter Kirn for the article. Happy New Year!

  • heinrichz

    very cool, would be nice to have a bluetooth version..

    • Eric Rosenthal

      We intend to design a wireless version in the future. However, we will not be using bluetooth due to audio latency issues that would interfere with lip reading. We intend to use analog wireless technology.

  • Bobby Fisher

    I can’t understand the benefits of it.. is it for people who has ear problems? Why wear a mic?

    • Eric Rosenthal

      The mic amplifies sounds within a 6 foot circle (120 degree acceptance angle) from the front of the mic and does not amplify sounds originating from outside the 6 foot zone. This creates a 10 to 11 db voice to noise ratio and improves conversational comprehension.

  • Robin Parmar

    “Wear is not a replacement for a hearing aid.  Wear is designed to be used when an individual is interested in having a quality conversation in very noisy environments like family get togethers, restaurants or meetings.”

    Hearing aids already do that, at a fraction of the size and far more discretely. I don’t see the use case.

    • Eric Rosenthal

      Sorry for the confusion. We are under strict guidelines from kickstarter not to represent the product as a hearing aid or medical device.

  • oldsoundguy

    Interesting concept. As a retired -and deaf- sound engineer, I would concentrate on the “aid” part of the publicity, (rather than the recording side which I no longer partake in….)
    Several points immediately occcur to me.
    1) if this truly is is directional, surely the “6 foot radius around you” is slightly misleading?
    2) is it directional or not,
    3) if it is directional, is the polar response (“directionality”) variable (eg crossed cardioids versus hypercardioids) ..
    4) are the prototypes deliberately large (perhaps dictated by PCB loading/density, hand assembly techniques, mic position/phase requirements etc)
    5) or can the desigh be miniaturised to become more visually discrete, perhaps with use of custom-design chips or SM devices?
    (pun on “discrete” unintended, sorry!)
    5) When will bluetooth become standard for ear devices?
    6) is there a way to communicate rather more privately than an open forum?
    so many questions , so many questions.

    • Eric Rosenthal

      1. The mic is near field directional using beam forming array technology.
      2. The mic amplifies sounds within a 6 foot circle (120 degree acceptance angle) from the front of the mic and does not amplify sounds originating from outside the 6 foot zone. This creates a 10 to 11 db voice to noise ratio and improves conversational comprehension.
      3. The polar response circular
      4. The prototypes were large during our selection of the proper microphone, understanding how small we could make the beam forming array, what the proper microphone pattern should be for best performance, etc.
      5. The design is as small as we can make it using SMD components and incorporating a battery that will last more than one day.
      5+ We intend to design a wireless version in the future. However, we will not be using bluetooth due to audio latency issues that would interfere with lip reading. We intend to use analog wireless technology.
      6.go to http://www.creative-technology.net and send me an email Eric

  • horny badger

    Michelle I think you’re verry hot

  • Loudy

    I’m a teacher with a very loud voice and needs to tone down my voice as I’m accused of yelling. Will this help me toning down my voice?

  • Umahmood

    Does anyone know where can I buy this? is it even in the market?