Surround Sound Eyewear
Royal National Institute for the Deaf
2005 (not in production)
Regardless of sight capabilities, glasses have become as popular as watches, having been absorbed into accessorised culture, so it is conceivable that someone who is hard of hearing but with perfect eyesight would prefer to wear glasses, even though the lenses prescriptive benefits are not involved. However, this project was not simply thought of as a way to overcome aesthetic stigmas. Technologically, the product followed the experiments of Professor Marinus Boone of Delft University and his notion of superdirective beamforming as the basis for a highly directional hearing aid. By involving a set of four microphones on both side-armatures, it increased hearing capability dramatically and gave much better speech intelligibility than conventional hearing aids. The result was a type of 3 dimensional hearing, similar to that found in certain animals such as coyotes.
Hearing glasses have existed before. But they disappeared primarily because of the combination of two functions that were articulated in an awkward, in-cohesive and problematic manner. Instead, Surround Sound Eyewear made an attempt to create a more holistic object not intended to hide the hearing aid, but to incorporate it with Professor Boone’s superdirectivity concept.
Hearwear, 2006, V&A Museum, London
Design and the elastic, 2008, MoMA, New York
Beijing Biennal, 2012, Beijing