Widex announced the first data gathered from the WIDEX EVOKE™ hearing aid, which is said to achieve “a new level of Artificial Intelligence (AI)” through machine learning, and is helping to bring new insights into how users are taking control of their sound environment to improve their hearing experience, according to the company.
Denmark-based Widex launched the WIDEX EVOKE hearing aid in April. The hearing aid is reportedly the first to give users the ability to employ real-time machine learning that can solve the tricky hearing problems that users face in their daily lives.
“We launched WIDEX EVOKE with SoundSense technology to put users back in control of the most difficult hearing situations,” said Jens Brehm Nielsen, data science & machine learning architect at Widex. “And we can see that EVOKE users have taken the opportunity to do that and, in the process, are helping us understand more about them. That information will help us to make the EVOKE and future hearing aids even better.”
SoundSense Learn is an AI system, because AI is said to refer to systems that solve tasks humans are inherently good at—such as driving a car, doing the dishes, etc. SoundSense Learn expands into entirely new applications by helping end users adjust their hearing aids in the moment, reportedly something that no humans can replicate to the same degree of accuracy, according to Widex.
The SoundSense Learn smartphone app is connected to the EVOKE hearing aids and uses machine learning to guide users in optimizing the settings to their exact needs. The app gathers a variety of anonymous data such as how often they turn the volume up or down, which sound presets they use, and how many custom settings they create—including those made with SoundSense Learn.
What’s in a tag?
Tagging of custom settings has proved to be one of the interesting pieces of data generated by EVOKE.
“We found that many people have created a setting and tagged it with, for instance, ‘work’ which suggests that it is something that our end users need and want,” said Nielsen. “And from SoundSense Learn we already have an idea of how they like the settings.”
Some hearing aids give users the ability to customize their sound experience by adjusting frequency bands to boost or cut bass, middle or high tones. Adjusting frequencies works well in many situations once the initial settings have been set by a skilled audiologist. However, some situations are so complex that hitting the right combination of adjustments can be difficult.
“Widex hearing aids are well known for the quality of their sound,” said Nielsen. “But SoundSense Learn has added an extra layer of quality sound on top of that by using a machine learning algorithm together with reinforcement learning—the two key ingredients in state-of-the art AI algorithm, that enables the algorithm to learn in the moment.
“The algorithm learns an optimal setting every time a user finds the sound to be a little below expectations in a given sound environment. It learns these settings by simply asking the user to compare two settings that are carefully picked by the algorithm. This allows it to learn an optimal setting in a new environment very fast.”
By collating and analyzing the anonymous data WIDEX EVOKE will continue to become even smarter as time passes.