Somerville company hopes to 'caption the world' with new closed captioning glasses
SOMERVILLE - A Somerville entrepreneur is looking to bring those with hearing loss back into the conversation.
Alex Westner is the co-founder of Xander, a technology company that creates closed captioning glasses.
"We're trying to caption the world," he told WBZ-TV.
The glasses caption conversations as they happen by using augmented reality and proprietary software to create live captioning on the lenses as a conversation unfolds. They run on a 3-hour battery and can be used straight from the box, no app or phone required — a big upside for Westner.
"You put on a pair of glasses and you'll start to see real time subtitles or captions of whatever people are saying to you," Westner said.
Though a price has yet to be listed, the need for the glasses is clear. According to the National Institute on Deafness, about 14 percent of adults ages 20-to-69 have some form of hearing loss.
After years in the field of audio technology, Westner realized the problem extends beyond sound, with other issues cropping up due to hearing loss.
"Not hearing is a problem," he explained. "Not understanding is a deeper problem. And not understanding for a long period of time leads to people to start to withdraw."
Westner and his partner, Marilyn Westner, recently showed off the product at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The response, they say, was overwhelming.
"We had three rows deep of people trying to try out our product," he said. "It was intense. It was amazing. It blew away our expectations."
He says if reaction at CES is any indication, it could be a significant breakthrough in the field of hearing loss devices.
"They would try the glasses and they would start talking and they would see the glasses and you could see the expression on their face was part shock. Part amazement. Part joy," he said. "There were some people crying and showing tears. I mean that's inspiring."
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