ChatableApps announced the launch of “the world’s first universal hearing aid, using neuroscience-led artificial intelligence to enable those suffering from hearing loss to hear one-to-one conversations clearly, using an everyday smartphone and a standard pair of earbuds.”
Hearing loss affects 37.5 million adults in the US* and the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that 466 million** people globally have ‘disabling hearing loss,’ with this expected to reach 900 million by 2050. However, due to the high cost of traditional hearing aids and lack of inclusion in medical insurance, many of those suffering are currently going untreated.
Serial entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who provided early investment in the technology, said: “Chatable is using AI to address growing health care inequality by providing an affordable hearing aid app that helps with conversation.”
Founder and chief scientist at ChatableApps, Dr Andrew Simpson (PhD) has devised a “brand-new way of thinking about AI which reverse engineers the neural processes of the hearing brain and implements them as AI,” according to the company’s announcement.
“Putting an auditory cortex on a smartphone has been a dream for a long time. As far as I know, this is the most advanced real-time AI that has ever gone on a phone,” said Simpson. “It’s been a long road, but our preclinical trials reveal something of a medical breakthrough: A hearing aid that doesn’t need hearing tests and going straight into the hands of people who can’t afford a hearing aid.”
The performance levels Simpson’s approach achieves reportedly “surpass those of a traditional hearing aid when it comes to one-to-one conversation.” The company says this was confirmed in pre-clinical trials where “86% reported that the ChatableApps universal hearing aid was better for conversation than their traditional hearing aid.”
Despite the complex science and AI at work in the app, the company describes its user interface as “simple.” Once downloaded, the user moves two sliders up and down to find their desired balance. The volume boost slider helps enable “clear and loud voice, while the background noise slider removes background noise, allowing users to hear conversations no matter where they are.”
“Our unique ground-up AI makes our universal hearing aid the first app capable of addressing the global hearing epidemic,” said Giles Tongue, ChatableApps CEO. “Following successful preclinical trials, we have decided to launch immediately due to urgent demand from audiologists to help people struggling because of coronavirus. With many unable to lip-read due to face masks or unable to visit a hearing clinic in an emergency, our app provides a lifeline that will help people communicate.”
The ChatableApps Universal Hearing Aid app is available to download now on iOS and Android. The app is free to access, with the option to subscribe to unlock maximum voice amplification and reduction of background noise. The full version is available for $12.99 /monthly, $79.99 /annual.
*Figures taken from – https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing
**Taken from the World Health Organization’s ‘Global estimates on prevalence of hearing loss’ (2018)
In pre-clinical trials:
● 76% said conversation was easier because of our background noise slider, 15% in a life changing way;
● 80% said conversation was easier because of our volume boost (and that was before we beefed it up), 15% in a life-changing way;
● 86% reported app was better for conversation than their hearing aid.
Images: ChatableApps, Business Wire