Facebook is using AR to develop glasses that augment hearing

Facebook’s mission statement ‘to help people connect and communicate with one another’, is being further put to the test with the their research into innovative AR glasses which help people with various hearing challenges.

Facebook Reality Lab scientists have been exploring new technology which help amplify the sounds people want to hear by matching what a person is looking at to audio inputs. The function of these glasses is to figure out which sounds a person wants to hear and which they don’t and then adjust the volume accordingly.

In short, Facebook has been exploring beamforming technology, deep learning, noise cancellation and augmented reality to improve the effectiveness of these glasses.

Amusingly, Facebook has turned much of its workspace into a fake, noisy bar, to explore how these glasses would work in loud situations.

Thomas Lunner, Facebook’s renowned hearing scientist whose work laid the basis for the world’s first digital hearing aid, says:

“Many people with hearing loss don’t use hearing aids — in part — because they don’t work well in everyday situations like a noisy restaurant, a conversation involving multiple people at a loud party, or in a moving car… In our new research, we show how augmented reality could supplement the hearing aid, through a system that understands what you want to listen to, isolates and enhances the sounds you want to hear, and reduces distracting background noise. By then sending the enhanced AR-processed signal to the hearing aid, you also get a system that adjusts for your unique hearing ability.”