Along with more than 115,000 others, I recently attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. It was incredible to see the latest innovations in all areas of consumer technology—including Hearing Tech. I enjoyed discussing the future of hearing health care with other advocates and influencers in a roundtable sponsored by GN Resound, and seeing the latest trends in all types of consumer products in the expos.
It was non-stop. Thrilling. And exhausting.
Given the tremendous listening effort—particularly in the reverberant and noisy halls of the expo—my brain was mush at the end of the day. I survived by requesting and using accommodations when available, pacing myself, and of course, caffeine! Plus, I had good company—my pal and Hear & Beyond co-author Gael Hannan.
Technology Often Improves Accessibility
While I was primarily there for the Hearing Tech, it was fun to wander through the various expos to see what caught my eye. Everywhere I turned there was innovation, creativity, and hustle. It was energizing and inspiring.
The accessibility market was not top of mind for most of the exhibitors, but it was for me. As I took in each new product, my mind jumped to all the ways people with disabilities could use it to make their lives a little bit easier.
Here are some examples:
Astro: Alexa on wheels
Amazon’s adorable dog-like robot named Astro uses voice recognition to carry out simple commands. It can do silly things like imitating animal sounds but also potentially useful things like performing wellness checks on aging adults, babies, or family members with disabilities.
Kizik: Hands-free slip-on sneakers
Kizik’s hand-free sneakers slip on easily and do not require tying or even bending down. While not specifically targeting the accessibility market, you can see how a product like this could bring increased independence to those with dexterity or other mobility challenges.
Beauty and wellness were hot markets featuring new hairdryers, anti-aging skincare regimens, and 20-minute teeth whitening products. But what caught my eye was a computer-generated way to try out makeup without applying it to your face. Perhaps this could help those with sensory sensitivities or allergies try out a new look.
Here I am trying one of the decorative face paint options. Perhaps it is not my best look! : )
Nova: Earrings with sound
There were many headphones on display, each with its own claim of better speech enhancement or music enjoyment. But Nova caught my eye given its unique form factor. Nova are clip-on earrings designed as a headphone alternative. They stream music and because they have both a microphone and receiver in each one, they can be used for phone calls too. While not geared specifically to people with hearing loss, perhaps they could provide a fun and fashionable alternative to AirPods Pro for situational listening assistance.
Universal Design Helps Everyone
Accessibility was featured in only one small part of the many expos at CES, but I saw it everywhere. Technology that helps people with disabilities usually benefits others as well and vice versa. The future looks bright.
Readers, what is your favorite hearing tech tool?
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9 thoughts on “Accessibility Ideas All Over CES”
What TV and movies offer CC. So many good shows are not CC. Any suggestions for apps that teach lip reading? Yes I try to stay up on ways to help my hearing loss. Love reading your newsletter. My older sister just started wearing hearing aids and called to say. “I now realize what you’ve been going through these years…”. Thanks for your help
In the US, all television programs should be captioned when CC is enabled on your television set. In my experience, this is true for the streaming services as well, although you need to turn the captions on for each service separately. You can also stream content in the Chrome browser to use their built in captioning feature. Thanks for your question and for reading the blog!
Did you happen to notice any OTC hearing aid companies at this event?
Yes, but fewer than expected maybe since the rule was recently finalized and companies probably need to book a booth well in advance. Nuheara and Eargo were there. Thanks for your question.
on page 106 of your helpful, interesting, well written book Hear and Beyond you mention external microphones attached to a smartphone to help it hear the dialogue better. Please give me an example of this microphone. I have three techie grandsons who are marvelous with my hearing loss and yet have no clue what you are writing about.
Thanks for the question. Here is an example of an external microphone for iPhone. https://www.amazon.com/BOYA-Microphone-Lightning-Foldable-External/dp/B0B5WYPQSF/ref=sr_1_26
My favorite hearing tech tool is my iPhone. I got my first iPhone last year and found out I could connect my hearing aids to it and I can hear phone calls and other things through my hearing aids. I was over the moon! My Mom and Aunt were both severely hearing impaired and I only wish they could have had this it would have been so much easier for them. It’s so marvelous what technology can do.
That is wonderful! Thank you for sharing the tech that works for you!