Hearing management

06 July 2010

Hi-tech harnessed against vuvus

Soccer journalists may soon be using a hi-tech device to block out the drone of vuvuzelas at soccer stadiums.


Soccer journalists may soon be using a hi-tech device to block out the drone of vuvuzelas at soccer stadiums.

A hearing-aid company is testing whether technology used by helicopter pilots could help soccer journalists focus on their work even in a stadium full of ear-shattering vuvuzelas.

Hearing-aid manufacturer Phonak said it had customised a state-of-the-art protection system to filter out the "endless drone" of the vuvuzela.

The system, which dampened sound electronically, was typically used by helicopter pilots, fire-fighters and industrial staff.

Several of the prototypes had been sent to South Africa to be tested by journalists.

The aim was to enable them to focus on their work, stay connected to the atmosphere in the stadium and talk freely to other people, while being protected from dangerously loud noise levels.

Risk of permanent hearing loss

Phonak said continuous exposure at just 85 decibels put people at risk of permanent hearing loss.

The combined noise of crowd and vuvuzelas at big games almost constantly exceeded 130 decibels.

Its system used digital filters to electronically dampen sound within the range emitted by the vuvuzela, the moment it occurred.

It would not alter other sounds - such as a colleague talking. "If this prototype proves successful, and vuvuzelas take off in stadiums around the world, mass production might be an option going forward," Phonak said. - (Sapa, June 2010)


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Hearing Expert

Francis Slabber is a Speech & Language Therapist and Audiologist who has owned and run The Hearing Clinic in Wynberg, Cape Town for the last 17 years. Francis and her team have extensive experience in fitting and supplying hearing aids as well as assistive living devices. Francis has served as the Western Cape Chairperson for the South African Association of Audiologists for three years and has given many talks on the topic of hearing loss and amplification. The Hearing Clinic has a special interest in adult and geriatric hearing impairment, hearing aid fittings and hearing rehabilitation.

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