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The James Bond Hearing Aid

A hearing aid that reads lips? What is this, the future?

Actually, it’s the present. Scientists in Scotland are working on a hearing aid that has a tiny camera equipped with lip-reading software that uses facial recognition technology. The software translates the words into speech and plays it into the ear in real-time, so no matter how noisy the room, the wearer has the equivalent of a personal assistant speaking directly into his or her ear, translating conversations.

Things could go a step further. The lip-reading function could be separated from the hearing aid “for example, mounted on a pair of glasses or a piece of jewelry” where it could then communicate with the hearing aid via wireless technology. Rather James Bond, no?

The Times of London reports that the technology, developed by researchers from the University of Stirling, the University of Sheffield and the MRC Institute of Hearing Research at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, could be used in noisy workplaces “or even on the battlefield.” Not to mention finding out, George Costanza-like, what people are saying about you at a noisy party.

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