Mix: Toys R Us, Google, iPod + Hearing Loss, iSpeak

Toys R Us is set to begin offering select iPod shuffle, iPod nano, and iPod touch models in its stores nationwide for “the first time ever” on October 19. Marketnews.ca notes that although the iPods are not yet listed on either Toys R Us’ U.S. or Canadian websites, the players have been available through its U.K. affiliate for more than a year. According to the company, it will also offer a variety of accessories “that kids need to complement their iPods, including iHome items, iTunes gift cards, as well as products like carrying cases and car adapters for use on-the-go.” Toys R Us says it will support the iPod rollout through a comprehensive marketing campaign consisting of print promotion, in-store signage and a special “iPod boutique” area in stores.

Google is reportedly readying new iPhone-specific advertising options to let companies target these users directly. Adweek reports that in various meetings with agencies, Google has presented an option to show different ads in response to searches made from iPhones. This would allow advertisers to provide iPhone-specific click actions, such as calling an airline to make reservations, or highlight a company’s iPhone-optimized web site. Google has yet to publicly confirm the feature.

A new study on MP3 usage from the EU’s Scientific Committee on emerging health risks suggests that as little as one hour of iPod/headphone use a day for five years might make as many as one out of every ten listeners deaf. While MP3 players in Europe are limited to 100 decibels, the scientists found that anything above 89 decibels listened to with regularity has an effect that is louder than the limits imposed on factories. “Decision makers and opinion formers are finally waking up to the hearing loss time bomb threatening many young MP3 users,” said Emma Harrison, head of campaigns at the Royal National Institute for Deaf People. “We want to see the Government and industry taking decisive action to save the hearing of future generations.”

Fonix Speech has introduced its new Fonix iSpeak application for the iPhone. iSpeak is a voice dialing application, which lets users place calls by speaking the name of a contact followed by their location (mobile, home, work, etc.). Fonix notes that due to the lack of Bluetooth access in the iPhone SDK, iSpeak does not currently support voice dialing from Bluetooth headsets. Fonix iSpeak is available now via the App Store and sells for $15.

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