Technological advancements have done wonders for the world of hearing healthcare. Thanks to technology, many people with hearing loss can regain the ability to interact with their world using hearing aids and other such devices. While these devices have certainly been important in making meaningful change for millions of people with hearing loss over the years, hearing aids are just the beginning of a new age of hearable tech.
The Age Of The Smartphone
According to the Pew Research Center, one of the world’s foremost survey-based research groups, some 5 billion people around the world have some sort of mobile cellular device, with smartphones accounting for over half of these devices. Needless to say, smartphones have revolutionized how billions of people interact with their world since their introduction just over a decade ago.
With the rise of the smartphone came the rise of the mobile application (app), thousands of which are now available for smartphones, tablets, and computers. Additionally, thanks to consumer interest in wearable technology, smartwatches and other such devices have become staples in many peoples’ lives.
All of these tools, combined, have become the ultimate innovation ground for hearing healthcare-related tech companies looking to revolutionize how we use technology to treat hearing loss.
The advanced technology found in smartphones and wearable tech is unbelievably powerful, so it’s not surprising that hundreds of apps have been developed to help people with hearing loss. In general, these hearables can be divided into two categories: those that detect hearing loss and those that help treat it.
Currently, there are dozens of apps that can conduct informal hearing tests, which developers believe can help people identify early signs of hearing loss if they’re not willing or able to invest the time and resources into going to a hearing healthcare provider for a formal appointment. Although these app-based tests are not going to be as accurate or informative as a proper hearing test with a professional is, proponents of the apps argue that they can make hearing healthcare more accessible to people who would otherwise go without it.
Additionally, there are hundreds of other apps that use a smartphone’s ability to estimate noise exposure to provide information about environmental noise. These tools can allow people to make educated decisions about the levels of noise that they’re exposing themselves to so they can better protect their hearing health. Plus, many apps use crowdsourcing to identify entertainment and dining venues that are unnecessarily loud or particularly quiet, so people can make more informed decisions about where they choose to spend their time and money.
Beyond the world of smartphone apps, however, some tech companies are looking into developing the sensor technology necessary to allow fitness trackers and smartwatches to monitor noise exposure levels. Since these fitness trackers already collect tons of data about an individual’s health and activity levels, this additional environmental information could give hearing healthcare professionals important insight into an individual’s risk for hearing loss and suggest useful prevention strategies.
Whether you love it or hate it, it looks like wearable tech is here to stay. Thanks to innovations and technological developments, hearing-centric wearable tech, and smartphone technology are likely to revolutionize how we identify, treat, and monitor hearing loss. Only time will tell, but we’re optimistic about where we’ll go from here!