An audio clip of a voice that’s saying a certain word has been making the online news rounds very recently. Some say it’s “Yanny” while others claim to have heard “Laurel.” Whichever among the two you may have heard, there’s no denying that your ears are still working fine. On the other hand, a hearing-impaired person may have some trouble figuring out the correct word even after wearing a hearing aid or a cochlear implant. A person may then have to use hearing assistive technology so they can finally join in on the fun debate. But as the said technology is still relatively new, how can auditory illusions like “Yanny or Laurel” help in improving it?
1.) Auditory illusions can help those who depend on hearing assistive technology in filtering out only those sounds they want to hear.
Contrary to what you might have believed for most of your life, your ears merely serve as a conduit for sound waves to travel. Your brain is, in fact, the one responsible for making you hear sounds. Unfortunately, the human brain can only do so much when it comes to processing complex sounds such as those coming from overly crowded places.
Thus, if your friend has played you the “Yanny or Laurel” audio clip on their phone’s loudspeaker while you’re both dining out at some restaurant, you might not hear it as much as it competes with the noise coming from your fellow diners.
Now imagine a hearing-impaired person in the same situation, and they might as well tell their friend they can’t hear it at all despite wearing hearing assistive technology aside from their hearing aid or cochlear implant. Hearing assistive technologies in the future can enable the same hearing-impaired person to switch off all the noise in a crowded place save for those sounds coming from anyone near them.
2.) Auditory illusions can help manufacturers make products that are better than those currently in the market.
Manufacturers of hearing assistive technology devices make the products to help hearing-impaired persons hear even in difficult listening situations. However, much of those situations typically involve sound in crowded places as mentioned above.
Future hearing assistive technology manufacturers should be able to address auditory illusions such that their products can make the brain of anyone wearing it process only correct auditory information.
Auditory illusions like the very recent “Yanny or Laurel” phenomenon hold an appeal of their own as it makes you wonder if your ears are playing tricks on you or not. They’re also essential in the manufacture of hearing aids and cochlear implants for hearing-impaired people as the devices approximate by electronic means what normal people can hear. However, as the devices may not be enough to process certain sounds correctly, some deaf people use hearing assistive technology as well. While the technology has yet to become as widespread in use as hearing aids or cochlear implants, auditory illusions can help in improving it as the above examples have shown.
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