Most people would not think twice about wearing headphones in public. In fact, listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks whilst on the move has become part of everyday life for many of us. But if you swap headphones for a different in-ear device, hearing aids, suddenly a huge stigma is introduced. Current research predicts that while 48 million Americans could benefit from hearing aids, only 16 percent have purchased a pair. What does this mean for Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates?
No, Bill Gates does not wear a hearing aid. Despite being over 60, Gates has retained good hearing unlike his father, Bill H. Gates Sr, who wears a HSDC Seattle hearing aid. Anyhow, Bill has always preferred to communicate via email and internet messaging, rather than a face-to-face conversation.
If you’re intrigued about Bill Gates’ contribution to the audio and sound industry, then this article is for you. Keep reading as we divulge everything we know about Bill Gates Sr’s hearing, Bill Gates Jnr’s preferred method of communication, and his donations to audio establishments.
Back in 2007, Bill Gates’ father, William H. Gates Sr. delivered a speech at the Hearing, Speech and Deaf Centre (HSDC) in Seattle. The center is a non-profit aimed at helping those who are deaf or hard of hearing through audiology, speech therapy, and hearing aids. During his speech Bill disclosed:
“I don’t hear very well, and I’ve been going to the center for years to keep up with the latest advances and get my hearing aid fixed up every time it goes haywire.”
It seems that Bill Gates Jnr is grateful for the support the center provides not only to his father but also to young children with hearing-related disabilities. Later on in 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation granted $240,000 to the center’s early learning preschool program.
The Future is Hearables
This isn’t the only time that Bill Gates Jnr has shown support to companies in the audio industry. In October 2016 Bill was given a product demonstration from a start-up company called Doppler Labs. Their product, the Here One Wireless Earbuds, is an innovative in-ear device that can cancel out background noise, amplify the voice of a particular person, and translate the voices of people speaking in other languages.
Bill didn’t publicly share his opinions on Here One, but in the past he mentioned:
“I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in”.
According to Bill, “computer scientists at Microsoft Research have been working to solve the hard problems in speech recognition”. So this is an exciting area of innovation.
Communicating at Microsoft
Despite having good hearing, evidence shows that Bill Gates prefers to communicate through email or secure internet messaging platforms anyway.
During the infamous Microsoft antitrust trials that took place between 1998 and 2001, Bill’s email correspondence with colleagues was used in evidence against him. The U.S government highlighted emails of Bill ordering Microsoft staff to “crush” competitors and “take away their oxygen”.
Surprisingly, in 2013 Gates clarified that he only receives around 40 to 50 emails per day, and he operates a strict ‘Zero Inbox’ policy so he takes time to read them all. Speaking to TODAY.com he said:
“It’s always tricky, but email’s the way I stay in touch with things. You always wonder what might come up, what new problem…I first find out about problems often with a piece of email.”