A Chattanooga company has earned the first industry certification for its amplified telephone.
"This should help set us a part from our competitors and assure consumers about the quality of our product," said Carsten Trads, president of Clarity, a division of Plantronics.
Clarity's new Alto phones, which the company plans to introduce in January, are the first to meet sound amplification standards adopted in May by the Telecommunications Industry Association. The industry group adopted the standards to provide consumer assurances that products sold as amplified phones not only amplify sounds but minimize sound distortions.
AST Technology Labs, an independent phone test lab, said Clarity's land-line Alto phones met the five pages of requirements set in the new standards. Clarity's amplified phones are designed for individuals with mild, moderate or severe hearing loss.
"A telephone meeting this standard should provide the best possible sound output to optimize the intelligibility of speech," AST President James Bress said. "We look forward to testing many more telephones ath address the needs and concerns of people with hearing loss."
Clarity is the biggest among the 10 or so makers of amplified telephones. Under the ownership of Plantronics - a Silicon Valley headset maker - Clarity relocated its Chattanooga 35-employee headquarters last December to a Bonny Oaks facility with state-of-the-art acoustic testing equipment.
"We have made the biggest investment in test and development technology and I think we're ahead of the rest of the industry when it comes to understanding these standards," Trads said.
About half of amplified phones are sold in the United States are made through state-sponsored programs that provide amplified phones for low-income seniors and hearing-impaired individuals. The state of Florida, the largest market for amplified phones sold primarily to seniors, will buy only industry certified amplified phones in its assistance program and Trads said he expects other states to follow suit.
The industry sells about 150,000 to 200,000 amplified land-line phones a year. Clarity in the biggest producer.
The market is growing, however, with the number of persons age 65 and older expected to double by 2030 to 75 million Americans, according to the U.S. Bureau of Census.