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FILE UNDER: Headsets
Posted on: Jan 22nd 2013, 11:22AM

An earpiece that inflates like a tiny airbag inside human ears can create the perfect fit for any music-listening experience or hearing aid. The futuristic twist on earbuds could even arrive in Apple stores sometime in the near future.

The inflatable earpieces represent the newest invention of Stephen Ambrose, a pioneer in audio technology and founder of Asius Technologies. His technology aims to deliver better sound for consumer earbuds, hearing aids and the in-ear monitors used by performing artists, but without the collateral hearing damage caused by cranking up the volume to compensate for imperfect listening devices.The inflated earpieces create an oddly comfortable feeling inside the ear that resembles the slight change in air pressure when riding an elevator, according to one CES attendee. In a clever twist, the earpieces can harness the sound pressure from the headphone or hearing aid speakers to inflate themselves.

"You don't have to slide it into the ear because it actually crawls into the ear canal and unfurls," Ambrose told TechNewsDaily.

Such inflatable earpieces can create an "isolation" seal in the ear that blocks outside noise, but remain flexible enough to absorb some of the excess sound pressure pumped into the ear by headphone or hearing aid speakers. Excess sound pressure can "beat up" the eardrum and trigger an acoustic reflex that defensively dampens loud sounds — often leading headphone users to crank up the volume even more in a vicious cycle.

The Asius technology can also reduce the "occlusion effect" that creates the booming, resonant sound of having your ears plugged. 

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