LOOKING BACK – JUNE 2015

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READY TO SEE-AND HEAR What could be more practical for people needing vision correction and a hearing aid than to incorporate both into a pair of eyeglasses? Behind-the-ear binaural hearing aids were introduced in 1954 with the advent of the transistor. They were made small enough so that a microphone and battery fit inside a five- or seven-barrel hinge temple. Only the earmold and tubing were exposed, and these could easily be covered by hair. However, the combination of the glass lenses with a bulky temple made for a fairly heavy pair of glasses. These hearing aids, made by manufacturers such as Zenith and Sonotone, were popular for the next 25 years, until the canal model of hearing aids replaced them. Interestingly, the company Varibel has created a modern version of this: hearing glasses using Bluetooth technology (varibel.com), which are significantly lighter than the ones from the ’50s. Courtesy of the Optical Heritage Museum.

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