Sonic Enchant Line Adds SoundClip-A to Stream Sounds in Stereo from Numerous Devices

Sonic Enchant Line Adds SoundClip-A to Stream Sounds in Stereo from Numerous Devices 

Sonic SoundClip-A.

Sonic SoundClip-A.

Sonic, Somerset, NJ, has expanded the wireless connectivity options of its Enchant hearing aids with the introduction of SoundClip-A. The easy-to-use, lightweight SoundClip-A allows users to stream stereo sound hands-free to both hearing aids from all Bluetooth® 2.1 smartphones and devices. Sonic Enchant already offers a range of premium features including natural sound, the ease and convenience of rechargeable batteries, and direct wireless streaming from an iPhone®.

Now, the small, ergonomically designed clip-on device delivers added benefit as a wireless remote/partner microphone for easier listening when the speaker is at a distance or in noisy environments where listening is difficult. SoundClip-A also enables remote volume control, program changes and call pick-up with just the press of a button.

Joseph Lugera

Joseph Lugera

“SoundClip-A’s wireless transmission of stereo sound from all Bluetooth 2.1 smartphones and devices adds the ‘wow’ of even more wireless convenience to the many ways Enchant makes everyday sounds better,” said Sonic President & COO Joseph A. Lugara in a press statement. “With Enchant, wireless connectivity is simple and stress-free thanks to Enchant’s Dual-Radio System that delivers fast ear-to-ear connection and employs 2.4 GHz technology.”

Simply Streaming. SoundClip-A allows patients to use Enchant hearing aids as a headset for mobile calls. Users stream stereo quality sound to both ears through their Enchant hearing aids from any Bluetooth 2.1 compatible device—including mobile phones, tablets, MP3 players, and more. The built-in microphones pick up the wearer’s voice and sound from the call which is streamed wirelessly to both ears for convenient, hands-free conversations.

When SoundClip-A is used as a wireless remote/partner microphone, the speaker simply clips on the lightweight device or keeps it nearby. The speaker’s voice can be heard more easily through the user’s Enchant hearing aids at a distance of up to 65 feet, according to the company. SoundClip-A also helps users enjoy video calls, webinars, and other audio sources for easy wireless listening in both ears.

For more information on SoundClip-A and the entire Enchant family, including Enchant100, Enchant80 and Enchant60 and popular styles including the miniRITE with ZPower, miniRITE T (with telecoil) and BTE 105, visit www.sonici.com.

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Google’s Pixel Buds: ‘Sorry, Can’t Help, But Always Learning’

Want to know what A.I. Hell is like?

How about interacting with a machine that repeatedly professes stupefaction when you just know it should know what you’re talking about?

I was excited when I heard last fall that Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google’s new wireless ear pieces would perform a kind of “real time” translation of languages, as it was billed.

The ear pieces, “Pixel Buds,” which arrived in the mail the other day, turn out to be rather limited and somewhat frustrating.

They are in a sense just a new way to be annoyed by the shortcomings of Google’s A.I., Google Assistant.

The devices were unveiled at Google’s “Made By Google” hardware press conference in early October, where it debuted its new Pixel 2 smartphone, which I’ve positively reviewed in this space, and its new “mini” version of the “Google Home” appliance.

The Buds retail for $159 and can be ordered from Google’s online store.

Google’s Pixel Buds: ‘Sorry, Can’t Help, But Always Learning’

Getting the things to pair with the Pixel 2 Plus that I use was problematic at first, but eventually succeeded after a series of attempts. I’ve noticed some similar issues with other Bluetooth-based devices, so I soldiered on and got it to work.

The sound quality and the fit is fine. The device is very lightweight, and the tether that connects the two ear pieces — they are not completely wireless like Apple’s (AAPL) AirPods — snakes around the back of one’s neck and is not uncomfortable.

The adjustable loops on each ear piece made the buds fit in my ears comfortably and stay there while I moved around. So, good job, Google, on industrial design.

Translating was another story.

One has to first install Google Translate, an application from Google of which I’m generally a big fan. Google supports translation in the app of 40 languages initially.

You invoke the app by putting your finger to the touch-sensitive spot on the right ear piece and saying something like, “Help me to speak Greek.” When you lift your finger, it invokes the Google Assistant on the Pixel 2 phone, who tells you in the default female voice that she will launch the Translate app.

Google’s Pixel Buds: ‘Sorry, Can’t Help, But Always Learning’

Several times, however, the assistant told me she had no idea how to help. Sometimes she understood the request the second time around. It seemed to be hit or miss whether my command was understood or was valid. On a number of other occasions, she told me she couldn’t yet help with a particular language, even though the language was among the 40 offered. It seemed like more common languages, such as French and Spanish, elicited little protest. But asking for, say, the Georgian language to be translated stumped her, even though Georgian is in the set of supported tongues.

This dialogue with the machine to get my basic wishes fulfilled fell very far below the Turing Test:

Me: “Help me to speak Greek.”

Google: “Sorry, I’m not sure how to help with that yet.”

Me: “Help me to translate Greek.”

Google: “Sure, opening Google Translate.”

Me: “Help me to speak Georgian.”

Google: “Sorry, I’m not sure how to help with that.”

Me: “Help me to speak Georgian.”

Google: “Sorry, I don’t understand.”

Me: “Help me to speak Georgian.”

Google: “Sorry, I can’t help with that yet, but I’m always learning.”

Me: “Help me to translate Georgian.”

Google: “Sorry, I don’t know how to help with that.”

In answer to Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, who writes of a new era of “continuous learning” for humans, I would like all humans to tell their future robot masters, “Sorry, I can’t help with that yet, but I’m always learning.”

When it does work, the process of translating is a little underwhelming. The app launches, and you touch the right ear piece’s touch-sensitive area, and speak your phrase in your native language. As you’re speaking, Google Translate is turning that into transcribed text on the screen, in the foreign script. When you are fully done speaking, the entire phrase is played back in the foreign language through the phone’s speaker for your interlocutor to hear. That person can then press an icon in the Translate app and speak to you in their native tongue, and their phrase is played for you, translated, through your ear piece.

Google’s Pixel Buds: ‘Sorry, Can’t Help, But Always Learning’

Even this doesn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes, after asking for help with one language, the Google Assistant would launch the Translate app and the app would be stuck on the previously used language. At other times, it was just fine. In the worst instances, the application would tell me it was having audio issues when I would tap the ear piece to speak, requiring me to kill the app and start again.

This is all rather cumbersome.

I went and tried Translate on my iPhone 7 Plus, using Apple’s AirPods, and had pretty much an equivalent experience, with somewhat less frustration. All I had to do was to double-tap the AirPods and say, “Launch Google Translate,” and then continue from there as normal. It’s slightly more limited in that the iPhone’s speaker is not playing back the translation for my interlocutor; that plays through the AirPods. But on the flip side, it’s actually a little easier to use the app because one can maintain a kind of “open mic” by pressing the microphone icon. The app will then continuously listen for whichever language is spoken, translating back and forth between the two constantly, rather than having to tell it at each turn who’s speaking.

All in all, then, Pixel Buds are just a fancy interface to Google Translate, which doesn’t seem to me revolutionary, and is rather less than what I’d hoped for, and very kludgy. It’s a shame, because I like Google Translate, and I like the whole premise of this enterprise.

At any rate, back to school, Google, keep learning.

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Chalfont Hearing Centre joins the UK Elite for Audiology and Hearing Aids

Chalfont Hearing Centre and Henley Hearing Centre are proud to announce that as of September 2015, we have satisfied the criteria to be considered as one of the UK’s Elite Hearing Centres. (more…)

Hearing Aid & Tinnitus Exhibition 2014, Little Chalfont Buckinghamshire

Would you like more information on hearing loss, hearing aids, tinnitus and assistive devices? Then look no further!

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We have finally got around to starting the hearing aid and tinnitus information blog. By connecting to our blog you can find information on hearing loss, hearing aids, technological advancements from Widex, Unitron, Phonak, Oticon, GN Resound, Starkey, Siemens and Bernafon hearing aids. Learn about changes in audiology and clinical practices. Find out about what Chalfont Hearing are doing in Buckinghamshire, London and Hertfordshire.

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