Introduction: Augmented Hearing Device
This project was made in the MRL Research Lab at Bergen County Academies.
Through these set of instructions, I will show you how to make a pair of noise-increasing headphones for people who want to increase their hearing. This device increases hearing to almost superhuman levels of sensitivity, with the simple use of amplifiers and earbuds.
The device that we created corrects the problem of not being able to hear. Our device amplifies the sound around the listener up to 35 feet away. Such tasks as listening to television, radio, driving, or human interaction are made less difficult for consumers. Sound from the other side of a room can be heard at normal speaking volume, fixing the problem of not being able to hear someone speak more quietly or from further away, a function that hearing aids cannot accomplish. The first prototype we built was only made to make all sounds louder, which is great for everyday practical use as a hearing device. The second prototype we built has a volume control and earbuds, making it more inconspicuous and easier to utilize. The purpose of this device is to increase the volume of sounds around the listener to assist them in hearing.
Ultimately, this device has many uses, which mostly include being able to assist the hearing - impaired, and help those who need to hear better for their occupations.
Step 1: Gather Materials
This project requires a few different materials, all of which should be relatively easy to find at an electronics store or a Home Depot.
You will need:
- 1 old glasses frame
- any pair of headphones
- Preferably earbuds that minimally cancel outside noise
- 1 sheet of PCB Board
- 2 battery pack.
- Each battery pack has to hold 3 (need voltage) button batteries; with a total of 6 batteries
- 2 electronic switches
- If you don’t get this, your headphones will most likely burn out because of the extended time of them being on.
- 1 LED diode
- A color that is easily visible during day and night is your best choice, as if you can’t tell if your headphones are on, you will waste the battery.
- 2 Electret microphone amplifiers.
- 4 small bundles of thin wire.
- This wire also has to have insulation, as you will see why later in the project. It is strongly recommended that you get 1 bundle of red and 1 bundle of black wire, as well as 2 bundles of different colors. 2 pieces of wire that are different colors from everything above.
- 2 capacitors (measurement)
- 1 audio jack 3.5mm
- Soldering iron
Step 2: Electronic Circuit Boards Assembly
Each circuit board consists of
- an electronic switch
- to turn the circuit on/off for use
- a battery pack
- to power the circuit
- 3 button batteries
- volume control
- in order to give the user the ability to increase or decrease the volume on either side to their preference
- 3.5 mm audio jack
The schematic is symmetrical on each side of the headset; therefore when building the circuit, just mirror the positions of the components for ease.
Using the soldering iron, attach switch, capacitor, volume control, and amplifier onto the PCB board. Onto one board, add the audio jack for the use of earbuds. After the components and wires are configured onto the board, use basic double sided foam to secure the battery pack onto the board, and the volume control can rest on top of the pack. Try to condense the components to the best of your ability, as a smaller circuit makes the device sleeker and more inconspicuous for others. Connect each side to an LED that is positioned between the circuits, in order to indicate when the circuits are closed and working.
Step 3: Attach to Frame
Using any method of your choice, attach both boards on either side of the glasses frame. In this prototype, we had used zip ties for the ability to fix the circuit as needed without having to damage the frame. Feed the wires connected to the LED across the top of the frame, and secure all components to the frame without sacrificing comfort to the wearer.
Step 4: Check Components and Plug In
Wear the frames and check if any components are not completely attached or uncomfortable to the user. After you've found the earbuds that you would like to use, plug it into the audio jack. Switch on both sides of the circuits and check if the LED is on to ensure that power is supplied. Using your volume control, you should now be able to hear sounds that the normal human ear isn't capable of in our everyday use.
Step 5: Conclusion
One of the many goals that this project wishes to fulfill is the goal of helping people who need to hear what others around them are saying, but in an inconspicuous and nonchalant way. Hearing aids are often clunky, expensive machines that often look garish and misshapen, while this design, which is still unfinished, is sleeker and more stylish for those who want to hear as they once did.
The next goal that this device will undertake is the goal of helping those who need to hear at near superhuman levels within their occupations. For example, special agents of the government and detective units of the police need to be able to survey an area in all aspects. This device will help them accomplish this goal by increasing the human capability to hear exponentially.
Our device accomplishes the goals and questions being addressed. Through testing, we discovered that it was far easier to hear what was going around close to us, even being able to hear clearly across hallways. Our device also blended in very nicely with the environment around us, and it fulfilled the goal of being inconspicuous. We also fulfilled the second goal of our device by making it able to gather noise from across hallways, through buildings, and even through windows, where sound is usually muffled to such an extent that it cannot be heard. The impact of this device cannot be understated, as it can gather information and collect data like no other machine can.