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The Victoria & Albert Museum in London is hosting an exhibition of high-fashion hearing aids, called Hearwear, in a bid to rehabilitate the devices and make them seem more attractive to those who might need them.

The exhibition, supported by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), will showcase a range of designs, from more attractively designed hearing aids to devices that could be used by anyone to play around with sound, the BBC reports.

The exhibition, which opens this week, will include a concept called Goldfish. It records and can replay the last 10 seconds of a conversation, in case the wearer misses a person's name when they are introduced. It also includes hearing aids that have been designed to look like jewellery or gadgets, a device for blocking out annoying sounds, and another to reduce background noise.

The RNID's chief executive, John Low, says that it is time for more investment in the consumer appeal of hearing aids.

"Millions of people who could benefit from wearing a hearing aid or hearing protection are reluctant to do so," he told the BBC. "There has been an incredible revolution is the design of glasses, why not in hearing aids?"

The RNID says hearing loss will become a significant health issue in the future. It expects the number of people dealing with some level of impaired hearing will rise from the current one-in-seven, because of increased noise pollution, and increasing life expectancy.

The exhibition opens this week and will run until March 2006. ®

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