A new class of Assistive Listening Device, born of a surprising new field in neuroscience
What is Buzz? How does it work? Who is it for? Why should I recommend it to my patients?
- Neosensory builds inexpensive, non-invasive technology to enhance sound perception through the skin
- Buzz is a complementary device to amplification (e.g. hearing aids, cochlear implants)
- This is a research-backed device that provides meaningful benefits (sound awareness, improvement in speech discrimination, etc). See Research papers below, or our latest 2020 paper here: Perrotta et al (under review). Deciphering sounds through patterns of vibration on the skin. [preprint]
- Algorithms use over 29,000 different patterns based on sound intensity and pitch
- Adjustable frequency response to customize experience
- Developed by Stanford neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman with Dr. Scott Novich
I decided to get two cochlear implants, but, unfortunately, they do not help much. They do allow me to hear sound, but all sounds are alike. I am unable to distinguish between a knock on the door, a dog barking, an alarm, words, etc. It sounds very much like Morse code, just a bunch of dots and dashes. When reading lips, I can determine how many syllables are in the words that are spoken, but I cannot differentiate between the various spoken sounds.
Even though Buzz isn’t intended to specifically help with speech recognition, the very first time I put Buzz on my wrist I was able to understand speech significantly better! After a while, I realized that I was also able to tell which syllable in each word was accented due to the stronger vibration on my wrist. I was also able to tell the difference between short and long sounds… and the difference between soft and harsh sounds…. These little changes virtually doubled my speech discrimination!
There are so many wonderful experiences that I have had with my Buzz, but the greatest is the improved conversations that I have had with my husband, especially those involving technical information. I am also able to “feel” music played by my daughter’s boyfriend, a professional musician. The vibrations from Buzz help improve my perception of the songs.
[When talking with people] previously, I had to have them wear a microphone that would sync with the cell phone I wore on my wrist that displayed the text of what they said. That became very cumbersome because the system would shut off automatically after only 2 minutes of silence.
In addition to the significant improvement in my speech comprehension, I have noticed that Buzz allows me to easily recognize alarms and buzzers around the house, coffee grinders, garbage disposals, etc. And it enables me to acknowledge when there is a siren near me while driving. I am making far fewer mistakes on a daily basis.
Technical Spec Sheet
- Perrotta MV, Asgeirsdottir T, Eagleman DM (2020). Deciphering sounds through patterns of vibration on the skin. Under review. [preprint]
- Fletcher MD, Zgheib, J. (2020) Haptic sound‑localisation for use in cochlear implant and hearing‑aid users. Nature Scientific Reports [text]
- Fletcher MD, Song H, Perry SW (2020) Electro-haptic stimulation enhances speech recognition in spatially separated noise for cochlear implant users. Nature Scientific Reports [text]
- Fletcher MD, Thini N, Perry SW (2020) Enhanced pitch discrimination for cochlear implant users with a new haptic neuroprosthetic. Nature Scientific Reports [text]
- Fletcher MD, Cunningham RO, Mills SR (2020) Electro-haptic enhancement of spatial hearing in cochlear implant users. Nature Scientific Reports [text]
- Fletcher MD, Hadeedi A, Goehring T, Mills SR (2019) Electro-haptic enhancement of speech-in-noise performance in cochlear implant users. Nature Scientific Reports [text]
- Novich SD, Eagleman DM (2015). Using space and time to encode vibrotactile information: toward an estimate of the skin’s achievable throughput. Experimental Brain Research. 233(10):2777-2788. [text]
- Novich SD (2015). Sound-to-Touch Sensory Substitution and Beyond. PhD Thesis from Dr. Eagleman’s laboratory. [text]
Want an overview of how and why this works? See our talk at TED: Can we create new senses for humans?
Questions? Please let us know what we can answer for you.