Hearing Birdsong: Using Immersive Design to Raise Awareness of Hearing Loss

January 28, 2022

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM — Kennedy Woods, a London architecture studio announces Hearing Birdsong, an immersive audio-focused app supported by Design Age Institute, which takes a unique approach to encourage people to get their hearing tested.

Over 12 million adults in the UK have hearing loss, and yet 9 million of these are untreated, living without the benefit of hearing aids.

It’s a growing issue that has a significant impact on on quality of life: creating isolation, incapacity, and vulnerability. And yet the way we diagnose hearing loss has not changed in 50 years.

The prototype developed – and the user-centered approach underpinning it – “shines a light on the potential to humanise other clinical processes, by focusing on the intersection between technology and patient experience”.


Design Concept


Upon entering a Hearing Birdsong installation, participants are immersed in a richly detailed forest soundscape emitted from distinctive yellow bird boxes. This backdrop changes throughout the day, blending rolling thunderstorms, wind-rustled trees and flowing streams into a dynamic yet calming audio-experience.

Inspired by a patient’s story, Hearing Birdsong unites user-experience and technology to encourage early diagnosis and raise awareness of hearing loss.

Working alongside the Dyson School of Engineering and Imperial College, they developed a working prototype of a “more humane hearing loss screen that uses modulated bird-calls within an ambient soundscape to test certain frequency bands of a traditional test, instead of pure tones and white noise”.

In this soundscape, difficulty in hearing the Wren’s call would indicate some level of hearing loss in the 4-8 kHz range – an important range for distinguishing common daily sounds.

Following a successful grant application to the World Health Organisation, a 3D audio, virtual experience of Hearing Birdsong can now be previewed by playing the video below.

To learn more visit the Kennedy Woods website here.


Leave a Reply