I didn't know if it's just that I'm getting old, or if receptions, meeting hallways, ballroom luncheons, and other large gatherings are actually getting louder, making it harder to have conversations in than it used to be. The ambient noise, even without some ear-shattering techno-band, is making it harder and harder for me to follow what the other person is saying, short of learning lip-reading.
So I read with great interest this article in Wired that social noise has actually tripled since the 1980s. And that scientists are working hard to come up with some gadgets that will help:
It's not just the hard-of-hearing who can benefit from applications inspired by traditional hearing aids. Hearing is the next sense ripe for a technological revolution, according to the exhibition's organizer, Royal National Institute for the Deaf, or RNID.
The exhibit features personal hearing devices, such as aids that enhance conversational speech or filter out ambient noise in a crowded bar. The gadgets illustrate how an effort to redesign conventional deaf assistants might lead to a range of new products for unimpaired consumers increasingly accustomed to wearing iPod earbuds and Bluetooth headsets.
Now these are some gadgets I would use.