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Pump up the volume in style, boomers!

New devices help remove the stigma of hearing aid use for aging baby boomers, and help preserve the auditory environment for the rest of us.

Intergenerational tech musings today: The New York Times has an interesting report about new advances in hearing aid technology. Companies are motivated to meet the needs of aging baby boomers facing progressive hearing loss.

But how to overcome the stigma of hearing aid use for this potential market of 78 million people? Recent innovation has led to new devices that look more like Bluetooth headsets or iPod headphones than older models that resembled "a chewed Circus Peanut."

New functions come along with these new forms. The Times reports that the Oticon Epoq, "which was introduced in May, is the first hearing aid to have integrated wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, so it can stream a cell phone call or music and audio from a radio, computer or MP3 into the ears through a remote control-like device worn on the body. It is, in other words, a wireless hands-free headset."

Very cool. I'd love to see the boomers adopt these new technologies because in the meantime, the world is getting louder to accommodate their preferences. It goes beyond the stereotype of aging parents who turn up the volume on the television, to everyone else's distress. I have noticed that many forms of public address have gotten louder, from church to concerts to movies. Sensitive kids, with their pristine, undamaged auditory systems, practically have to plug their ears at the movie theater.

Musician friends of mine have pointed out that live concert events often sound terrible because the guy running the mixing board has totally lost his midrange hearing, and he's adjusting the levels so that they sound good to him, no matter what it sounds like to everyone else. Let's hope that as the boomers age they can find effective and graceful ways to turn up their own private volume so that younger generation can live in a non-amplified world.