It’s unsettling to realise that the colours you perceive might be different from those everyone else sees. The same, it turns out, is true of hearing. It’s the uniqueness of each person’s hearing that an ambitious Australian start-up is capitalising on, with an invention dubbed the nuraphone – headphones designed to adapt their sound to the user’s individual hearing profile.
Electronic tones sweep up into inaudibly high frequencies before a kind of pulsing science-fiction minimalism fills my ears as I calibrate the nuraphone I’ve been sent, a visual representation of my hearing profile forming on the screen of my mobile phone, a blob of soft pink and blue.
Nuraphone hearing profile. Photo: supplied
The headphones, launched with a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016 (it was the largest ever in Australia), are the brainchild of Luke Campbell, who co-founded the company Nura in 2015. “It all started from the simple realisation that everybody hears differently and we’re not talking about hearing loss, we’re talking about the normal variations between two unique individuals,” he tells me.
Campbell’s background is in medicine. “I was training to be an ear, nose and throat surgeon, and on the...