The Australia-based research institute National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL) has released its 2021 Annual Impact Report detailing its research and projected future trends in hearing healthcare for the previous year.
The report outlines new developments in hearing technology that include start-ups like Noopl, a company that developed an iPhone accessory utilizing NAL beamforming technology to improve hearing in noisy environments; smartphone apps like SonicCloud that provide a “personalized” sound experience, and speech-in-noise solutions for people with normal audiograms who have trouble distinguishing voices in a crowded place like a bar or restaurant.
Other trends include those accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which include an increase in teleaudiology services, self-fit hearing aid options, and DTC devices. The report calls for additional research into how remote care compares to in-person services, and if the trend will continue beyond the pandemic. Innovative screening devices like Drumbeat.ai can be a vital tool to helping screen high-risk and remote populations like Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders for ear disease, and AI can also help clinicians tune and make adjustments to devices, without requiring an in-person visit.
Exploring the challenges related to mask wearing and social distancing, NAL concluded that these communication barriers increased stress and anxiety for hearing impaired people, and also decreased their speech understanding. With this in mind, the research institute developed a speech-to-text app, NALscribe, tested in Australian hearing clinics, and found that it improved patient-practitioner communication and conversational flow, particularly for those who had a language barrier.
To read the report in its entirety, please visit the NAL website here.