Hi-tech against vuvuzelas

2010-06-29 22:24

Cape Town - A hearing-aid company is testing whether technology used by helicopter pilots could help soccer journalists focus on their work even in a stadium full of ear-shattering vuvuzelas.

Hearing-aid manufacturer Phonak said on Tuesday it had customised a state-of-the-art protection system to filter out the "endless drone" of the vuvuzela.

The system, which dampened sound electronically, was typically used by helicopter pilots, fire-fighters and industrial staff.

Several of the prototypes had been sent to South Africa to be tested by journalists.

The aim was to enable them to focus on their work, stay connected to the atmosphere in the stadium and talk freely to other people, while being protected from dangerously loud noise levels.

Phonak said continuous exposure at just 85 decibels put people at risk of permanent hearing loss.

130 decibels

The combined noise of crowd and vuvuzelas at big games almost constantly exceeded 130 decibels.

Its system used digital filters to electronically dampen sound within the range emitted by the vuvuzela, the moment it occurred.

It would not alter other sounds - such as a colleague talking.

"If this prototype proves successful, and vuvuzelas take off in stadiums around the world, mass production might be an option going forward," Phonak said.

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