To see one of the newest products on the block which integrates fashion, design and technology at its best; head straight to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, where there’s an exhibit called “Hearwear”. This exhibit aims to "show how fashionably designed ‘hearwear’ can be as desirable and accessible as ‘eyewear’, and will change the way people think about hearing". The exhibit includes futuristic hearing aids, prototype headsets designed to block out specific sounds and jewelry-style units that can be customized to go with your outfit or mood.
The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), together with Blueprint design magazine and the creative agency Wolff Olins are collaborated to put forward number of radical designs intended to revolutionise hearing aids in the modern era. And these hearing devices are for everyone, not just for the deaf or hard-of-hearing. These devices also helps to cut or enhance the noise that surrounds us and there by trying to avoid effects of noise pollution.
"Hearwear" designs seek to mix functional hearing aids with contemporary fashions, with some of the more extravagant examples including gold, platinum and silver components.
According to BBC, the European market for hearing aids is worth £2.9bn. The RNID, which represents nine million deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the UK, is hoping that the display will open up general acceptance of hearing aids as a fashionable accessory as well as a functional devicelike the 'eyewears' and get rid of the negative mindset related to the hearing aids.
Many products have been commissioned to the best product designers to "rethink the future of hearing products". The prototypes revolve around the mantra that hearing aids must be small and discreet, with some designs including glasses with four built-in microphones.
Designed by Priestman Goode, the Decibel protects the user's ears in noisy environments while allowing certain sounds to get through - for example, a mobile phone, laptop or MP3 player.
The Universal Hear-ring by Pearson Lloyd is a basic core which can house a variety of hardware - handsfree mobile headset, wireless MP3 headphones or digital hearing aids. The user can customise it by adding separate outer rings to suit mood, style or occasion.
Exhibition Hearwear is at the Victoria & Albert Museum from 26 July to 5 March 2006. Free Admission
Keywords: Hearing Aids, Design, V&A Museum, London