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Clarity Calls On Elderly

2/11/2008 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Hearing-impaired phone manufacturer Clarity has added a 5.8GHz digital model to its lineup.

The C4230 can amplify incoming sounds up to 50 decibels thanks to a digital signal processor. A curved sound champer in the ear piece also aids listening, the company said. The unit features an amplified speakerphone in its base station.

It offers an integrated digital answering device with variable speed playback and the ability to check messages from the handset.

The phone retails for $269 and is currently shipping.

Additional features include adjustable volume, tone and balance, visual ringer, caller ID/call waiting and the ability to add up to three additional handsets (the C4230HS for $119).

The phone functions much like a hearing aid, not just amplifying incoming sounds but shaping them for optimal performance for those hard of hearing, said Carsten Trads, Clarity president. Future versions will use DECT 6.0 technology he said.

Trads said the total population suffering from some form of hearing loss is roughly 38 to 40 million. As the population ages, that group is predicted to grow, he added.

Capitalizing on an aging populace that is frightened of nursing homes will be key for the hearing-impaired category's success, Trads observed. Many of the major phone makers have begun rolling out products for this market, including Uniden and Thomson. "People fear a nursing home more than they fear dying, and the phone is the last lifeline, it can help them 'age in place' in their homes," Trads said.

Approximately a third of the company's phones are sold through retail outlets, with the remainder moving through medical specialty channels, Trads said.

Clarity is a division of Plantronics.