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Bragi's Project Ears is fusing wireless audio with hearing aids

Personalized audio enhancement for people with hearing-related issues.

Bragi's appearance at this year's CES isn't about an updated pair of earbuds. Not yet, at least. It's taking its audio tech in a new, health-based direction, working with Mimi Hearing Technologies to create a product that offers personalized hearing enhancement.

Both companies are working on a Personal Sound Amplification Product (PSAP) -- backed with FDA approval. The rest of the details are still TBC; although according to Bragi, it will combine hearing enhancement with a design similar to its Dash series of buds. In short, it's not going to look like a hearing aid. The project was apparently inspired by one of Bragi's early Kickstarter backers, who made a basic modification to the Dash to offer relief from tinnitus. The company now plans to combine its audio know-how with Mimi's customized hearing test maps, resulting in user-specific sound profiles and creating a refined solution for hearing issues like tinnitus. The whole idea is to submit devices what will get FCC approval, and Bragi hopes to do just that.

Project Ears has already established a hearing test (in science terms, a pure tone threshold test) to create unique "Earprint." Combined with Mimi's personalization tech, the hearing device will automatically configure and program itself to the individual without any need for manual programming or even a smartphone. According to Bragi, Project Ears will also test out personalized hearing enhancement in homes, offices and outside work environments like construction sites. (That's why there's a picture of a construction worker at the top of this article, in case you were wondering.)

Project Ears is posited as a way to help with hearing issues in an unobtrusive, subtle way without involving often-pricey medical tech. It's certainly not the only company branching out in this direction. Many others are likely approaching assistive audio, after a bill to deregulate hearing aids was passed, opening up access (and hopefully reducing the price of entry) to hearing-aid devices of all kinds. Bragi believes it's nimble and small enough to beat bigger competitors to the punch.

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