From an early age, innovator David Greenberg saw how difficult it was for people with hearing loss to integrate with society and how much they suffered as a result. His grandmother had hearing problems for ten years and, consequently, developed progressive dementia. Motivated by his personal situation, the young Brit started to study the side effects of the inability to communicate in order to prevent people from reaching his grandmother's situation.
"When someone loses their hearing, nothing can be done to restore it, however, you can avoid getting to this state, especially if you are exposed to noise all the time," Greenberg explains. According to the European Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), exposure to high levels of noise at work leads to long-term hearing impairment. To address this situation, Greenberg created the company EAVE, which has developed intelligent headphones for noise control, promotion of good practices in the workplace, and reduction of occupational risks. Thanks to this technology, the young man has become one of the Innovators Under 35 Europe from MIT Technology Review.
These headphones, called EAVE WORK, protect workers in real-time within industrial environments. "The system does not block noise, but modulates it so that it acquires a specific frequency similar to that of a hearing aid," says Greenberg, adding that this allows the sound to continue to reach the worker, ensuring their hearing safety. In addition, thanks to sensors, the headphones measure the type of environmental noise and identify where the workers are located. Specific software then collects this data and hosts it on PEAK, a monitoring platform developed by the company itself.
Using algorithms that were previously only present in high-end hearing aids, the company analyzes this information, identifies potential risks and details aspects such as where and when excess noise occurs. As a result, occupational safety and health managers can access noise exposure maps and monitor noise intensity from any web browser.
Another of Greenberg's objectives was to facilitate communication between operators. He therefore enabled these headphones to allow workers to be connected to each other, to talk face-to-face and to make phone calls. According to the company, this improvement in communication also increases the safety and efficiency of employees, as they are more aware of their environment and the dangers that surround them. For example, using these headphones eliminates the downtime that occurs when operators take off their headsets to talk.
Engineering companies in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Spain are already enjoying the benefits of Greenberg's technology. But its creator says EAVE's goal is not only to help companies identify their high noise levels, but also to "eliminate the loneliness and isolation caused by hearing loss."
Juan Arturo Nolazco-Flores, Dean of the Southern Region Faculty of Engineering and Science at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Mexico, as well as member of the Innovators Under 35 Europe 2019 jury, says that EAVE's key differential value is that "these hearing protectors reduce loud background noise while improving conversations, allowing easy communication without overriding important audible signals such as alarms or sirens."
By Alba Casilda
Translation: Brian Bostwick