3D printed earbuds could enhance hearing and reduce stigma surrounding hearing aids

Posted on 23 Dec 2018 by Maddy White

New 3D printed wireless earbuds can be used as headphones, boost a users’ hearing ability by tuning out background noise, and help tackle stigma around traditional hearing aids.

The earbuds are hexagonal in shape - image courtesy of Elen Parry.
The earbuds are hexagonal in shape – image courtesy of Elen Parry.

Designed by Elen Parry, a student at Manchester Metropolitan University, the hexagonal earbuds, named HeX are audio headphones that double up as an advanced hearing device that everyone can benefit from.

They enable a user to increase or decrease the volume of their environment, protecting them against hearing-loss, extend hearing ability, and enable control over what they actually hear.

An advanced chip enables sounds differentiation

An advanced chip that receives and processes sound signals would reportedly be able to differentiate between background noise and the noise you want to hear.

The device could be produced on a large scale via 3D printing and connected manufacturing systems, and the silicone earbuds could also be personalised and printed to fit any shape or size of ear precisely.

It was my intention to design an accessible hearing aid that removes social barriers and can enhance human ability, making it desirable to a wider range of people.” Parry says on her website.

She also states:” HeX earbuds are designed for everyone. They work to enhance hearing as well as protecting and preventing hearing loss. They provide the user with more comfort in environments where the audio levels around them are out of their control. HeX earbuds extend human ability, allowing the user to control what they hear.

The geometric design aims to innovate the aesthetic of medical devices. Embedded technology to stream music and receive phone calls brings an element of desirability to a device that is often rejected by the user.”

HeX earbuds

The earbuds would offer the latest connective technologies to make them a desirable device for many people.

A hexagonal design provides a natural multi-directional hearing experience, so that the user can hear and process a wide range of sounds.

Embedded Bluetooth, infrared and motion technology would allow users to connect with other devices – for taking phone calls or streaming music.