Call us Today! 1-800-686-3099

Get Directions

New Smartwatch Alerts Hearing Impaired to Nearby Sounds

Over the past forty years the greatest joy of our business is providing the gift of better hearing. Difficulty hearing is one of the most common conditions among older adults. Many people make lifestyle adjustments rather than seek help. With the new advances in technology now is an ideal time to consider an evaluation. At Hopco Hearing Center, we have made a commitment to professional service, quality products and low prices. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Choice - There are over 200 manufacturers we can service. Everyone's hearing loss and lifestyle is different... So we offer a wide variety.

Follow-up - All aids come with a 60 day trial... We see you weekly during this time to assure your adjustments and the aids adjustment are satisfactory.

Continued Education - Every year we attend conventions and manufacturer seminars to keep up the latest fitting news and technology. We are members of nationally accredited American Speech and Hearing Association, American Academy of Audiologists and the International Hearing Society.

A new smartwatch app alerts users who are deaf or hard of hearing of nearby sounds, such as microwave beeps or car horns.

“The main motivation [for the app] came from my own experience, and conversations that my colleagues and I have had with deaf and hard of hearing people over several years,” says Dhruv Jain, who presented the system, called SoundWatch, at the virtual ASSETS conference on October 28.

Jain, who is hard of hearing, uses SoundWatch at home to avoid sleeping through a smoke alarm. “On a nature walk, it’ll tell me that there’s birds chirping, or there might be a waterfall nearby,” he says. “Those sounds make me feel more present and connected to the world.”

Sound awareness apps for smartphones exist. But Jain prefers the immediacy of sound notifications on his wrist, rather than in his pocket — and surveys of people who are deaf or hard of hearing show he’s not alone. 

The SoundWatch app pairs an Android smartwatch and phone. The watch records ambient noises and sends that data to the phone for processing. When the phone detects a sound of interest, the smartwatch vibrates and displays a notification.

Jain, a computer scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues designed the app to identify 20 noises. In experiments, SoundWatch correctly identified those 20 sounds 81.2 percent of the time. When set to listen only for urgent noises — a fire alarm, door knock or alarm clock — the app was 97.6 percent accurate. Eight deaf and hard of hearing people who used SoundWatch around a university campus gave the app broadly favorable reviews, but noted that the app misclassified some sounds in noisy outdoor settings.

Jain and colleagues are now working on a version of SoundWatch that users can train to recognize new sounds, such as their own house alarm, using just a few recordings.

Article originally appeared on Science Daily.