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Hearing enhancement technology goes stylish

December 11, 2013
by Richard R. Rogoski
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Max Virtual, a Delaware-based company with offices in Greensboro, N.C., Shenzhen, China and Bangalore, India, has come up with a stylish solution for those with pure conductive or unilateral hearing loss: a baseball cap fitted with a device that transmits amplified sounds directly to the inner ear.

Although bone conduction technology is not new, what is new is the headgear with which this technology can now be delivered. The company's baseball cap version is said to be lightweight and sweat absorbent with a microphone inside the bill and a Bluetooth headset and bone conduction transducers built right into the main part of the cap. Also available is a neck pouch with mountable parts for eyeglasses and a discreet, flexible, one-size-fits-all headband.

Called the Cynaps Enhance, the device is claimed to also improve the clarity of sound in those who have had cochlear implants and to improve the "feeling" of sounds in those who suffer from complete hearing loss.

In an effort to raise funds for additional research and development of its wearable hearing enhancement devices, the company has taken to the crowdfunding site, Indiegogo, in the hopes of raising $75,000 by the beginning of January.

However, Max Virtual is quick to point out on this campaign website, "Please note that Cynaps Enhance is not a medical device at this time, and as we continue to share the data that we receive with everyone, we must state that we cannot guarantee specific results for any one person. We are offering this as an experimental device, to allow everyone to explore the use of amplified bone conduction in a very practical, open and inexpensive way. As backers of this campaign, you will have, at a very low cost, the first available versions of our device for testing purposes."