A new prototype hearing aid has been developed that can vibrate to alert wearers of sounds above a certain level.

Called SoundSense, the small microphone built into the hearing aid also has a separate motor which vibrates when noise exceeds normal levels, such as when a fire alarm sounds or police siren.

Created by US firm Furenexo, the device could be priced at around $25 (around £20) and has been designed to help “build the confidence of individuals who cannot hear and empower them to venture out into unfamiliar environments”.

It is also making the technology used in the SoundSense open source, meaning that it is possible it could be picked up and further developed elsewhere.

It has been seeking funding on Kickstarter, but the project didn’t meet its funding goal. Furenexo is yet to say what this means for the future of the SoundSense.

The aim of the company is to improve assistive technology for those with disabilities so it’s unlikely to be the end of the road for the hearing aid, and with the plans being open-source, it could well be picked up by others for further development.