According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 5% of the world’s population—or 466 million people—have disabling hearing loss. In Argentina, hearing impairment constitutes 18% of the existing disabilities according to Info LEG—86.6% of which experience hearing difficulties; 13.4% are deaf.
While those diagnosed with hearing loss can take necessary actions for their individual cases—taking preventive measures to avoid total deafness, getting hearing aids, learning sign language, etc—those who do not know what’s happening to them are subject to a more frustrating experience. This is especially true for children who may lose the chance to develop their cognitive skills and pursue higher education.
Using Technology to Bridge the Gap
uSound for Samsung is an initiative designed to bring technology to people with hearing loss—to help detect the risk of hearing loss and thus improve their quality of life in such essential aspects as communication and education, the South Korea-based company announced.
uSound Test is a free application that is designed to allow users to determine their risk of hearing loss. According to the company’s press release, the app reproduces precalibrated sounds that users give feedback to. The app is designed to compare user feedback with its database, reportedly detecting specific frequencies the user may have difficulty hearing. uSound Test is designed to analyze the auditory curve that results from the whole test to help determine the degree of hearing loss risk.
According to Samsung, uSound for Samsung will issue a report with the results that indicate where there may be difficulties. Since the test is not designed to be a medical diagnosis, the app recommends that users contact hearing health specialists when necessary.
Cynthia Giolito, senior manager, corporate citizenship, Samsung Electronics Argentina, said: “uSound for Samsung reinforces our mission to offer technology with a purpose that improves quality of life. We are very proud to embark on this path and we hope to have solid results that will promote hearing accessibility in more places.”
Through uSound for Samsung, the company hopes to use its technology and resources to:
- Raise awareness about hearing loss and improve public policies;
- Avoid irreversible damage to hearing organs;
- Encourage learning and cognitive development for children;
- Develop speech and facilitate social inclusion;
- Contribute to a more egalitarian society.
Working with the Community
The Government of Jujuy will provide resources and workspaces for the hearing loss-detection campaign, according to Samsung. uSound will continue to help improve hearing experiences with its products, including the aforementioned test and an app that turns the cell phone into an auditory assistant**, according to the company’s announcement. Samsung Electronics will provide the necessary technology to carry out a first pilot test of uSound Test in health centers across Jujuy and will financially support the project.
Governor Gerardo Rubén Morales, Jujuy Province, said: “It is a pleasure to accompany uSound, a company from Jujuy, take on its challenges. With the support of Samsung, this project will impact thousands of people with hearing problems. It is great that this project started in Jujuy. We hope it can be replicated throughout Argentina and in other countries—technological innovation knows no boundaries.”
As a team, the Government of Jujuy, uSound, and Samsung Electronics Argentina will help give a larger part of the Argentine community access to tools to potentially change lives through the use of technology.
Ezequiel Escobar, CEO and co-founder of uSound, said: “We witnessed a truly historic opportunity for our company and for Jujuy. This plan, using our technologies, will benefit many people from Jujuy and has the potential to expand to help many more people around the world. We are talking about a huge impact that grows even more with the support from Samsung and the Ministry of Health of Jujuy.”
Samsung has been preparing for entry into the hearing care market for several years; Hearing Review reported that the company filed a patent in 2013 for a “small hearing aid.” In 2015, Samsung placed a $13.9 million order for hearing aid amplifiers driven, according to a BusinessKorea article, by Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong’s interest in what it called “mobile health care.” More recently, SamMobile reported that Samsung applied for trademark registration of the term Earcle in South Korea, and that its application referenced hearing aids. Additionally, a Samsung device described as a “Samsung Bluetooth Hearing Aid” with the model number SM-R790, reportedly surfaced at the Bluetooth Special Interest Group’s (SIG) database.
* Not a medical diagnosis
** Not a hearing aid
*** Translated from Spanish and edited for clarity