Kazuko SasakiEnvironmental Instrument Division. She is in charge of preparing instructions for device design modi cations and assembly and associat-ed documents.The Nowand Future of RionA Hearing Aid That Switches Modes Intuitively!I meet with customers daily through my hearing aid activities. I often find myself thinking about hearing aids. It would be great if technological progress would allow us to create hearing aids that could help people hear and perceive sound far more naturally. For example, the hearing aids currently in use are adjusted so that wearers can clearly make out face-to-face conversations. But I think many users would be thrilled if we could enhance hearing aid sensitivity for a number of different sounds, like the sound of wind, birdsong, waves, or rain. What if a hearing aid could monitor the user’s brain waves and switch to enjoyable-sounds-of-nature mode automatically when the user wants to focus on such sounds? What if a hearing aid could link automatically to the sound source of a movie or play at a theater and provide a stress-free hearing environment for appreciating the content? What if a hearing aid could visually represent the information gathered from the surroundings? This would make the devices much more user-friendly. Maybe we could use hearing aids along with goggles to display words picked up by the hearing aid as text. That would definitely enhance user comfort. The ideal hearing aid would be one that captures sounds users want to hear, when they want to hear them, in a more natural way. Such a hearing aid would allow users to feel, understand, and enjoy the various sounds around them. There’s still a lot of time left before 2050. I hope we have such wonderful hearing aids by then.What WillOur WorldLook Likein 2050?Sora FujimoriMedical Instrument Division. She is in charge of introduc-ing hearing aid products, sales, and customer interac-tions at the Rionet Center.Enjoying Each and Every Kind of Sound!I’m currently involved with the production of sound level meters. From time to time I wonder what future sound level meters will look like. For example, sound level meter systems, currently available as dedicated devices, may evolve into applications you download onto ordinary smartphones. This would mean the meter wouldn’t require a dedicated enclosure, which would reduce the environmental burden. If a smartphone could itself function as a sound level meter, such meters might enter widespread use beyond the current narrow user base, significantly expanding potential applications. For example, it might be interesting if sound level meters were no longer used simply for measuring sound levels, but evolved to the point where measuring sound becomes a recreational activity. A while back, when I was participating in a park cleanup as a member of an environmental group, I noticed insects make various tones and sounds. But it isn’t always easy to name the insect making the sound. What if your smartphone had sophisticated software capable of distinguishing the different sounds made by insects and birds and then showing you a picture of the creature itself? If the technology for analyzing waveforms of sound continues to advance, it might be possible one day to enjoy looking up sounds in this way. Rion’s mission is to apply technologies to solve societal issues. In the future, I hope we’ll also offer products that make the lives of people more fun and fruitful.10

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