Airplane Assistive System for Hard of Hearing Travelers

Period of Performance: 08/01/1997 - 09/30/1998


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Oval Window Audio
Nederland, CO 80466
Principal Investigator


The high noise environment in airplanes is adverse to spoken communication, regardless of one's hearing ability. For hard of hearing people, these listening conditions result in miscommunications, social isolation and potentially dangerous circumstances. Phase I, supported by field testing and the participation of a major airline, was successful in proving the feasibility of the prototype Airplane ALS; an effective and user friendly assistive listening system specifically designed to interface with existing airplane sound systems and featuring unique infrared capabilities for in-flight interpersonal communications. In Phase II, further research and development will result in a second generation prototype and the commercialization of an innovative hearing assistance product. Refinements planned reflect data from Phase I's R&D and field testing, and include new audio signal processing, revised infrared circuitry, improved battery life, a more cost effective design and enhanced user-friendliness. An equally important Phase Il objective is to make the design of the Airplane ALS attractive to the airline industry by establishing the value of the system from a passenger safety perspective as well as customer relations viewpoint. Final design, packaging and product cost will be determined with the active involvement of hard of hearing people and the airline industry. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: An estimated 10% of the population in the USA have a significant hearing loss and can benefit from the use of hearing aids and assistive listening devices in hostile listening environments. With airline traffic exceeding 40 million passengers per year, addressing the needs of the growing market of hearing impaired travelers is potentially significant to the airline industry as well as individuals with a hearing loss.