Starkey announced it is entering into a research collaboration with researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine to study the use of hearing aids equipped with embedded sensors and artificial intelligence to track and mitigate health risks as well as enhance speech intelligibility in challenging listening environments.
Related article: Starkey Launches Evolv AI Hearing Aids
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly half a billion people suffer from disabling hearing loss globally, and the number of hearing impaired is expected to reach about 2.5 billion by 2050. Individuals with hearing deficiencies often find it challenging to understand conversations, especially in noisy environments. Beyond the loss of communication, untreated hearing loss adversely impacts the quality of life, and has been shown to be associated with social isolation, depression, cognitive decline, and other comorbidities including increased risk of falls.
“At Starkey, we are committed to advancing and innovating technologies to not only improve the quality of hearing, but, broadly, the quality of lives,” said Achin Bhowmik, PhD, Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Engineering at Starkey. “This research collaboration aims to enable patients to hear better in difficult listening situations and reduce their health risks, including fall injuries.”
The study, conducted jointly by researchers at Stanford Medicine and Starkey, will analyze gait and balance of patients wearing advanced hearing aids with integrated sensors, assess fall risks, and pursue interventions that could potentially reduce the risk of falling. The study will also explore advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to improve speech intelligibility in a variety of listening conditions.
“This collaboration has many health benefits, as one in four people 65 years and older fall each year and falling once doubles a person’s chances of falling again, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said Archelle Georgiou, MD, Chief Health Officer at Starkey. “Fall risk is greater for hearing impaired patients, as it has been shown that people with even mild hearing loss are at three times higher risk of falling than people with normal hearing.”
The research will utilize and build on Starkey’s Evolv AI technology, which has “transformed hearing aids into a multifunctional health and communication platform, including edge artificial intelligence algorithms for sound enhancement, automatic fall detection and alert, physical activity and social engagement tracking, as well as intelligent assistant features including reminders and language translation.”
The collaborative study will be led by principal investigator Robert K. Jackler, MD, Sewall Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and Professor in the Departments of Neurosurgery and Surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
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