BOSTON (KDKA) – At first glance it looks like a doctor’s appointment. But Mike Maguire is not getting his hearing checked. He is getting custom fit earbuds.
Mike actually gave up on using ear buds a long time ago, “I don’t use ear buds because they don’t fit.” But the Boston-based company Uvero wants to change that. Uvero uses an MIT-developed scanning technique to create a digital map of the inner ear.
“Our ears are as unique as our fingerprints. No two ears are the same, not even your left and right,” explains Brian Fligor, Chief Audiology Officer at Uvero.
Lots of companies offer custom fit earbuds and earpieces. The difference at Uvero is it’s scanning technology. Customers don’t have to put any of those mold making materials directly into their ears. Instead a device scans the ear for 100,000 data points. The shape of the customer’s inner ear appears on screen during the one minute long scan. That information is then put on a 3D printer at Uvero’s Wakefield location and a few days later “we’ve got an earpiece that is tailor-made for that customer,” explains Fligor.
Uvero not only claims a more comfortable listening experience, but a safer one, says Fligor, “it definitely gives people an opportunity to listen at lower levels, which is in fact safer.”
“Hearing loss, in the U.S., is a really big problem,” says Dr. Steven Rauch, an ear specialist at Massachusetts Eye And Ear. Dr. Rauch says many cases of hearing loss, especially in young people, are likely caused by listening to loud music. The advantage of any custom ear piece is that users can block out other noise and turn down the volume on the headphones.
“It’s comparable to wearing sunglasses on a bright sunny day. You’re reducing the amount of the exposure that gets to the inner ear,” explains Dr. Rauch.
The scan of Mike’s ear revealed a one-of-a-kind shape, thin and bendy, and likely the reason his ear buds always fall right out. A few days after the scan, Mike returns ready to try out his new ear phones. His reaction? “It’s awesome.” And yes, he even turned down the volume.
Custom fit comes with a price. The Uvero ear phones cost $269. For $99 you can get custom fit covers to use with the ear buds you already own.