When the Original ChatterVOX was conceived 20 years ago, the motivation was simple, help a friend with Parkinson's overcome the difficulty of being heard in our noisy world and reduce the stress associated with trying to articulate speech in these intimidating circumstances. Size really wasn't a consideration other than the unit be small enough to be body worn and hands free. Capturing a weakened voice and increasing it to a conversational level was JOB ONE.
We didn't hit it out of the park on our first at bat, but the first ChatterVOX certainly did hit our first home run. Over the next few years, we worked on refinements. These included:
- better/lighter speaker technology
- better microphone capsules
- stronger connecting wire for the headset microphone
- a more durable and comfortable headset
- introducing additional microphones (collar, pencil/lavaliere and transdermal throat); better battery contacts and optimizing battery performance.
We still weren't laser focused on SIZE, but ChatterVOX users increasingly WERE.
Recognizing this need, we began looking at existing small amplifiers for ideas. Most were boxy and uncomfortable to wear around the next. Most were comparatively heavy (requiring 6-8 AAA batteries to operate). Most had marginal sound quality and quickly went into feedback because of the close proximity of the microphone to the speaker.
After repeated attempts to reduce size (including thickness) and weight, we realized we needed to completely rethink the amplifier architecture for efficiency and power requirements to use smaller, lighter batteries.
- Digital amplifier technology provides the power we required for quality sound, while minimizing power consumption and with superior feedback control.
- Surface mounted amplifier components allow for substantially smaller size and high quality robotic circuit board assembly.
- Readily available lithium polymer mobile phone batteries give us the size and weight improvement we wanted.
- Also, using these batteries allows us to take advantage of a wide and expanding range of affordable mobile phone charging accessories.
- This, in turn, increases our user's ability to adapt to particular lifestyle needs.
- Charging is by industry standard microUSB plug or OPTIONAL wireless charging.
- As a small/thin ChatterVOX would often be chest worn, it would need a special magnetically shielded speaker
- We felt it necessary to consider someone with a pacemaker might use the amplifier.
- Though we have never had a report of ChatterVOX speaker magnets interacting or interfering with a pacemaker, we simply wanted to minimize such a possibility.
- The amplifier and controls must be comfortable to handle with either hand so all jacks and controls are on TOP of the amplifier where than can be easily seen and adjusted.
- The neck strap is strong nylon, symetrically adjustable and incorpates two strong, yet breakaway clips for security and safety.
- The covering protective slip case is genuine leather. ChatterVOX is a tool, not a toy. It is worn daily and should respect the dignity of those who wear it.
- A new lightweight headset (same quality ChatterVOX microphone capsule) with user replaceable cable and suntan (we call it COCOA) color for more discreet appearance. ( or black upon request)
- A quality nylon zip storage case.
- Global friendly battery charger (use any travel adapter or purchase OPTIONAL interchangeable adapter plugs)