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Smart glasses display real-time captions for people with hearing loss

Professional Engineering

A promotional image released by Xander, showing how the glasses capture conversation and display it on the lens
A promotional image released by Xander, showing how the glasses capture conversation and display it on the lens

New ‘smart’ glasses that display real-time captions of what other people are saying have been unveiled.

Designed to help deaf people and people with hearing loss to understand others’ speech and to be more confident in conversations, the XanderGlasses were developed by Boston, Massachusetts start-up Xander. The device, which was revealed at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada this week, is powered by technology from augmented reality (AR) multinational Vuzix.

Built-in noise-cancelling microphones capture speech from conversations, which is then displayed on the lens. The speech-to-text technology is also built-in to the glasses, meaning they do not need a smartphone or wifi connection.

An on-off switch controls whether the glasses capture and display conversation. Xander claims they work “anywhere people need them”, including at home, work, or even in loud public settings.

Promotional images show the captions covering a large part of the lens, although an integrated touchpad apparently allows users to position text where they want.

“48m people in the US struggle with hearing loss, and that will increase as the population ages. If you can't hear what others are saying, XanderGlasses can help you see what others are saying,” said CEO and co-founder Alex Westner. “Our team has spent countless hours with people of all stages of hearing loss, and XanderGlasses is the result of our customer-driven approach.”

Co-founder Marilyn Morgan Westner said: “Despite advances in other assistive hearing devices, there are situations where many people don't feel satisfied. XanderGlasses can help people with hearing loss clearly understand others' speech and feel more confident in conversations.”

The glasses are expected to be available this Spring, the company said.

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