Singular Hearing, a Canada-based company, introduced an advanced machine learning algorithm that turns a smartphone into a sophisticated hearing assistive device enabling improved conversations even in noisy places. According to a December 4th press release, the company will unveil its AI-powered hearing app, HeardThat, at CES 2020.
Harnessing the power of machine learning, HeardThat turns a smartphone into a digital hearing assistant, tuning out background noise to enable individuals with hearing loss to hear speech more clearly, allowing them to engage in conversations they would otherwise have trouble hearing (as seen in the video below).
HeardThat utilizes advanced machine learning machine algorithms to separate speech from noise. It listens to the noisy environment and delivers “denoised” speech, to the individual’s Bluetooth-enabled hearing aid or other listening devices via their smartphone.
A global epidemic, more than 466 million people worldwide are affected by some degree of hearing loss, and this staggering number is rapidly increasing. Additionally, there are myriad contributing factors to the U.S. market’s low hearing aid penetration rate, which by most accounts hovers around 25% to 30% of the hearing-impaired population and compares to other developed countries where penetration ranges from 35% to 45%.
“Often the first step in helping people with a hearing problem is an in-ear hearing aid. However, the weakness of even the most sophisticated hearing aids is the challenge of separating speech from background noise. Hearing aids tend to amplify all sound, making it difficult to have one-on-one or group conversations in a noisy environment. It can be frustrating enough that a person with hearing loss may even avoid a social outing or public place. Machine learning gives us the unique power and flexibility to solve this long-standing problem. We are passionate about putting it to use through HeardThat and providing new options for the millions of families, friends, and colleagues who suffer from hearing loss.”
–Bruce Sharpe, Founder and CEO of Singular Hearing
Sharpe concludes, “Machine learning algorithms require too much processing power to run on hearing aids or other small devices. By leveraging the smartphone, our HeardThat App is freed from hardware constraints and so can do much more. And because it is an agile and flexible software solution, HeardThat can be quickly and continually improved upon.”
HeardThat, a new generation of software hearing assistive solutions will be available in early 2020 on Android and iOS. It joins a growing number of smartphone-based apps that provide amplification or signal-to-noise ratio improvement and could serve as a viable substitution for traditional hearing aids for some persons with hearing loss.