Plantronic's Clarity announced a first with the Ensemble at CES 2013, an accessible amplified phone that also telephone-captions your call in near-real time. The set's display is actually a 7-inch Android tablet -- version 2.2 if you must ask -- and the heart of the system. When a call is placed or comes in the caller's speech is passed off to FCC-certified telephone-captioning company ClearCaptions and the results are then written to the phones display -- while the audio is amplified in the Ensemble's earpiece. Font size can be changed on the fly, as can the audio processing which, like a hearing aid makes soft sounds easier to listen to and loud sounds quieter. If a user has trouble Clarity's support folks can actually get in the phone and make changes, Clarity's rationale here is it lower hardware returns and helps out the customer.
Clarity and ClearCaptions have an impressive product in the Ensemble, it is both attractive and quite useful for anybody with hearing issues frustrated with conventional telephony. Interestingly, the final link, the actual speech to text is done by people and not some slice of technology on a server somewhere and the service won't cost you one red cent. Unfortunately a data connection wasn't available for us to test the captioning but we're hopeful we can rectify that before the end of the show.