For those with hearing loss, technology is becoming increasingly helpful in raising our quality of life and assisting our brain to perform the functions it requires to hear. Though they are fantastic examples of the tools available to those in the deaf and hard of hearing community, hearing aids and assistive listening devices are still not as widely used as they should be. With 28.8 million Americans poised to directly benefit from hearing aids but choosing not to pursue them, many are reporting price and accessibility as key causes. Fortunately, smartphones have increased accessibility to help, as new hearing loss applications such as SoundPrint and Tunity are being developed on a consistent basis, helping you identify hearing friendly venues, making it easier to hear your television at home, and much more. But are these apps worth the download? We’ve listed a few examples of smartphone applications so that you can decide what is useful for your unique needs.
Created by Gregory Scott, SoundPrint is an incredible hand-held decibel reader, giving you the ability to determine whether your environment is too loud for those with hearing loss. Utilizing the microphone on your smartphone, SoundPrint will record a 15-second snippet of the sounds around you and measure the noise level in decibels, reporting back whether the level is safe for hearing, great for conversation, or damaging to your health.
SoundPrint also allows you to upload those readings using your location into an online database that anyone can access, allowing you and other users to find hearing friendly venues nearby. Though SoundPrint does not help users hear better like other apps, it can be useful when planning your next hearing friendly night out.
The first free application of its kind, Tunity allows users to hear live audio from muted televisions directly from their smartphones. Using self-described “deep learning and computer vision technology”, users can scan a muted television with your phone’s camera and have the live audio sent directly to your mobile device and through your headphones or hearing aids with smartphone-compatible models. Whether you’re at a local bar or in your own home, Tunity is a useful app for those with trouble hearing in settings with excessive background noise or just need the volume to be amplified.
Using a Push-To-Talk model, Hearing Helper will utilize Siri’s speech-to-text technology to provide captions for your conversations in real-time. All that’s required is simply holding down a button while you talk! The Push-To-Talk model is a great feature for those who only require a short burst of captioning rather than ongoing throughout your entire conversation. Unfortunately, Hearing Helper will cost $1.99 unlike our other free apps listed above, but it can be beneficial for those who are deaf or struggling to participate in conversations in noisy environments.
If you are looking for smartphone applications to aid with your unique case of hearing loss, speak to a hearing health professional who can provide medical advice tailored to your exact needs. New applications are being developed on an almost daily basis, with some of the newest and most groundbreaking technology yet to come.