Best Wearable Device for Hearing Loss

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It was another work dinner, and I had completely lost the plot of the discussion. The restaurant we were dining at was dimly lit, scene-y, and thus unfortunately, the backdrop to our conversation was a thumping bass soundtrack. As I leaned forward, straining to listen over the thin eeeeeeeee sound ringing in my right ear, my gaze tracked down and tried to focus on people’s lip movements. No good. How about context clues? The journalist in front of me had switched topics twice already. Slowly turning their head towards me, I thought to myself, oh no. They’re asking a question. Pay attention.

But frankly, it didn’t matter how hard I “paid attention,” because the words they were saying just sounded like a wash of mouth movements under all that eeeeeeeee anyways. Needing a Hail Mary, I went for the ol’ grin and laugh. They raised an eyebrow. “So, you’re saying you actually prefer to transcribe long interviews by hand?”

Related: This Innovative Wearable Is Aiming to Combat Rock & Roll’s Legacy of Hearing Loss

Wrong answer. It was already the first 30 minutes of the meal, but as that viral joke goes, I didn’t know how many more “wow, that’s so crazy”-s I had left in me. But if this scenario sounds anything like you, then you’re not alone — around 15% of adult Americans (44.1 million) suffer from some form of hearing loss, and nearly 50 million people have experienced some form of tinnitus in their lifetime. However, only 16% of those who suffer from hearing loss ever even pursue treatment. If you’re wondering why — given that there have been massive advancements in hearing aids and sound therapy for tinnitus — you may want to understand why up until recently I, too, was in that 84%.

In a way, there’s nothing extraordinary about having one of the most common health conditions in the United States — it can be caused by a lot of things. But in your mind, you’re probably imagining tinnitus as a post-concert after-effect, walking off to the parking lot or onto public transport while your ears ring incessantly, only to be fine the next morning when you wake up. I was like that too for most of my life: before there was such a thing as ANC, I cranked up the volume on my wired Apple headphones in the hallways of my high school, and I never wore earplugs to a single set at Warped Tour.

While session musicians and touring artists (alongside you avid live concert-goers out there) are some of the most likely to experience ear and hearing issues, including tinnitus, I was one of the unlucky few to acquire my ringing and have my hearing affected due to chemotherapy treatment as a young adult. I didn’t want to admit that I might need hearing aids in my Twenties (much like the average individual who waits 10 years to pursue them), and I was in the weird, nebulous zone with my audiologist who said my situation might improve enough for them to not be necessary. But where did that leave me in the meantime?

Enter: Neosensory Clarify, a wearable device made by engineers at the forefront of auditory and sensory technology that promised to help hearing loss not through your ears — but through your skin.

One recent advancement attempting to actually increase hearing comprehension (as opposed to simply preventing further hearing damage) is from Neosensory, a California-based tech company led by Stanford neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman.

Sage Anderson

Available on Neosensory’s site for $999 (arguably cheaper than some hearing aids, which can get up to $12,000), The Clarify wristband seemed like something straight out of a sci-fi B-movie, meant to help people with hearing loss experience speech via vibrations on the skin.

How Does the Neosensory Clarify Work?

Equipped with Neosensory’s machine-learning algorithms, the Clarify band vibrates in response to specific sounds in speech that can be difficult to discern to those losing the upper frequencies in their hearing. According to the company, this non-invasive method utilizes neuroplasticity (that “brain retraining” method similar to those popular puzzle apps), and in less than three weeks, the brain adapts to these new inputs and the wearer can interpret vibrations as speech.

That “brain retaining” driving the Clarify‘s effectiveness is not dissimilar from what blind people experience when reading Braille: the sense of touch is repurposed into a sensory input for language. Another familiar example of this type of “sensory substitution” is lip-reading (which I was woefully inept at) – with practice, your sense of sight is honed to generate language input for the brain.

Admittedly, I was already familiar with Neosensory’s general methodology, having completed their Duo 8-week tinnitus program back in 2021. Full disclosure: at the time, my tinnitus and hearing issues were not as severe as they are now. Yet I had seen some genuine improvements, to the point where I could work in a quiet room for longer without being disrupted by the constant ringing, however temporarily.

Sage Anderson

But some time had passed, so I was intrigued as to how soon I would be able to notice my hearing comprehension getting better. I tried to set some realistic expectations, and genuinely just wanted to be able to participate more in conversation in crowded spaces and at press events. If we’re being honest, though — I had hoped too that the Clarify program could help regain some balance to my music listening experience. I was the type of kid who used to compare files when illegally downloading music and find the MP3 with the higher audio quality by ear. Recently, everything has sounded pretty bass-heavy and out of whack.

What surprised me most was that Neosensory Clarify‘s hearing comprehension program required so many hours to complete: 200 to be exact. You get sent the wristband, and then are required to download the smartphone app to sync it to. The app picks up the sound of someone speaking (or singing), while the wristband vibrated accordingly to the higher-pitched s- and z-sounds. After pairing up the wristband, all I had to do was go about my day, talking to coworkers and roommates like normal. I thought to myself, will I always have to wear this? Will it make a difference when I don’t?

When I first started wearing the Neosensory, I was very cognizant of the fact that the band was buzzing — it is powerful. I definitely felt the difference when I heard different sounds in conversations, like a hard consonant versus an s-sound. But luckily after a few weeks, I could barely even feel the buzz on my skin anymore (to the point where I had to repeatedly check if the band was still on), even if it wasn’t necessarily boosting my speech comprehension to a noticeable degree yet.

Weirdly enough, I found myself self-conscious of the optics of wearing it constantly outside the house and having people ask about it, since the tinnitus program had only required 10 short minutes of use per day I could do it in the comfort of my own home. I thought it would be similar to wearing a hearing aid, but it was actually closer to a fitness watch in terms of bulk and comfortability. No one ever asked what it was or why I was wearing it, and the soft rubber felt easy to wear all day long without feeling like I had to tear it off my wrist.


At the point when I wasn’t quite sure if it was making a different in my understanding of everyday conversations I had a bizarre experience that spoke to the level of effect this program was having on my brain. After about a month and a half, I noticed that when I was dreaming and others spoke to me within the dream, I would actually feel the a faint buzzing sensation ghosting across my wrist. This was definitely when the turning point happened — and naturally that meant that a torrential downpour had to rain down on me and short circuit my band (it was quickly replaced). Yes, the one downside is that while the wristband is water-resistant, it’s not waterproof, so do not submerge your wristband in water or wear it in the shower. (Sorry to those of you who wanted a little conversational assist at the swim up pool bar on vacation!)

Minor setback aside, I did manage to complete all 200 hours the program, although it was definitely in just the last few weeks where I felt the most noticeable improvement happen. You see, according to the app, your brain spends the first 100 hours (half of the program) simply getting used to the band and learning how to interpret sounds from the vibrations. I thought that maybe my lack of immediate success was due to my hearing loss not necessarily being severe enough, or maybe not having enough conversations on the daily to warrant an effective brain training (even when I wore my wristband into the office, I still tend to prefer most of my interactions happen over Slack — sorry dear coworkers!).

Sage Anderson/Neosensory

But then I went out to a press dinner wearing the band — and though now I could barely feel it, I turned to the woman next to me who had a particularly higher-pitched voice. In an instant, I realized I felt every sizzle of the “s”s and “z”s coming out of her mouth, the pop of every consonant, without even needed to glance down to lip read. Later that night when I was streaming a show on Netflix I realized 15 minutes in that I had forgotten to switch on the subtitles, and I hadn’t missed a single thing. It was almost instinctual. It was almost like, dare I say, my brain had learned a thing or two.


Similar to the company’s former Buzz and Duo device, Neosensory’s latest wristband is part of a broader mission to use technology to address auditory health challenges. As far as I’m concerned, this wristband has become like eyeglasses for my hearing, a minimal addition to my everyday routine that’s an easy way to make me feel more in the loop during conversations than ever before.

The best part? I could even double up and seamlessly switch between “Speech Clarity” and “Tinnitus Mode” (which I’ve started back up again for some extra auditory oomph — why not?) on the Clarity band via the Neosensory App. There’s no extra charge for accessing the different modes, which is huge given that hearing loss goes along with tinnitus in 80% of cases.


Overall, it’s a little bittersweet — while I wish the program had done more for my music listening experience (the bass and drums are no longer so heavy in my ears, but it’s not like vocals are popping super prominently, either), I can now get through a party without having to sheepishly ask “what? What did they say?” a thousand times. It is a little unclear though how long you should be wearing the wristband for after the 200 hours are up, and if your brain can somehow untrain itself in that time period.

But whether you’re a touring musician who’s now suffering from sound exposure off the stage, or someone who just gets tinnitus flare-ups from time to time due to stress, Neosensory Clarify is changing the game when it comes to offering an accessible solution to an at-times isolating problem. Even if it can help you avoid just one more social faux pas, it will have been worth it.

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