The Cellphone and the Hearing Aid: The Odd Couple

Cellphones and hearing aids aren't always compatible in close proximity, but they're starting to get along

5 min read

”Mom, stop shouting into the phone—I can hear you just fine.” That’s what happens when I talk to my 77-year-old mother. And my experience is not atypical, for today the aging of the population means that more people are suffering from hearing loss. In fact, 4 million to 6 million people in the United States currently use hearing aids. Even more need them but don’t wear them, although a greater proportion of this population is likely to start using hearing aids as they get both more effective and more attractive.

At the same time, there are over 280 million cellphone subscriptions in the United States, for cellphones are rapidly becoming a ubiquitous and essential form of communication in today’s global society.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
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A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic
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Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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