Hearables are intelligent wireless microcomputers equipped with artificial intelligence that incorporate both speakers and microphones. They fit in the ears and can connect to the internet and other devices and are designed to be worn on a daily basis. Some technology companies are focusing on their development, because they could revolutionize the market and enter our daily life on a permanent basis.
They are not hearing aids. They are not earplugs, headphones or earphones, although they can also perform this function. I repeat: hearables are a sort of personal assistant that is always worn. A computer that whispers appointment reminders to us, or plays music to us, or makes us talk to distant friends, or amplifies distant sounds.
Not only that: the hearables with AI will be able to inform us about our state of health, or assist us in learning a new language. Yes: because the greatest potential in my opinion is in the field of education. In one way or another, a “portable” teacher can always be useful. But will it be only this?
The future is hearable
To accompany traditional forms of classroom education or online education, hearables can support listening to lectures, educational podcasts, notifications and reminders through a wide variety of interactive applications.
With hearables, the instant playback and recording of words, so that students can check their understanding of a lesson. Smart hearing devices could even determine the context and choose the right time and place to deliver the best content.
Another important feature of these devices can be the ability to translate languages.
Music and learning
In music education and language teaching, hearables are bound to play a significant role as listening is at the heart of both music and language understanding. Music and language students will be able to access relevant content from anywhere and practice lessons.
Students could use hearables almost anywhere with Internet connectivity to communicate with teachers and other students. For example, while commuting, students could collaborate on projects and access content with text-to-speech technologies and speak directly to the teacher for advice.
He is at home? These devices can be well integrated into daily life and activities: for example to use more “pervasive” voice commands, and to control home devices.
Hearable: professional training, self learning and more
Not only school teaching, but also professional training. Hearables could be used by workers in manufacturing plants or other environments. They could allow users to search and access instructions while they are using their work tools, without the distraction of a screen. A sort of "manual" always available, which whispers in our ears the solutions to the various cases, or the type of maintenance needed for the washing machine we are trying to repair.
What is missing from a future of "whispering" computers?
There are obviously significant challenges that need to be overcome to introduce hearables into everyday life. Currently the greatest limits are the technical ones: it is necessary to reduce energy consumption. We need to reduce the size of the battery, increase its duration, improve the connection.
In summary, it is about removing the obstacles that do not yet allow an entire desktop computer to be reduced to the size of a headset. A headset that can process communications in natural language, which is no small feat.
Other concerns are related to privacy when it comes to people talking loudly in a public space or office. We will need to work on it.
Could listenable computers be the earrings of the future?
Smart mobile devices are now ubiquitous among students. This can't be said for hearables yet, and it may take some time for them to reach a similar level of ubiquity. Of course, the lessons designed for use on similar devices can then also be enjoyed on other mobile devices, or on a computer.
I have the feeling (and I'm not the only one with it) that in a given time these hearables will be a very widespread product, perhaps not only in education but in society. They will replace the classic mobile phone, and all or most of the functions that support hearing.