Tech Inclusivity Is Growing, and We Love It
Every year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) creates quite a stir with innovative new products and a window into potential trends. This year the trade show — all digital for the first time in its 54-year history — leaned even more into inclusive tech, which helps everyone participate more in life.
Why does it matter? It’s all about accessibility, which is a big part of why we’re in the hearing care business. Better hearing helps people access more of what matters in their lives. For example, it:
- Helps keep connections to loved ones strong
- Reduces the risk of social withdrawal or isolation
- Goes hand in hand with better physical and mental health
- Supports workplace success and earning power
- Plays a role in staying safe and alert
Some of the inclusive tech at CES 2021:
- Smartphone apps such as HeardThat, which reportedly works in tandem with hearing aids to separate speech from noise; Aware, which may help those who are blind or with low vision navigate public spaces; and Sravi, which uses video, a word bank, and artificial intelligence to interpret lip movements.
- The Nobi fall-detection lamp, which not only can sense a fall — an especially high risk for older adults and those with hearing loss — but can also send an alert for assistance and even help prevent slips in the first place through active tracking and reminders.
- The Mantis Q40, a QWERTY-based Bluetooth keyboard that contains a refreshable braille display and works with compatible screen readers, making it easier for people who are blind or have limited vision to participate in the classroom and other activities without needing a separate braille device.
- The Oticon More™ hearing aid, a groundbreaking rechargeable device designed to work more like your own brain does, so it can make better use of sound, require less effort to listen, and let you remember more of what’s being said.
This dovetails with our own focus on inclusive tech, including providing solutions that combine smart innovations with customized care to help you hear your best. Today’s hearing technology even includes options such as:
- Fall detection and alerts
- Language translation
- Remote adjustments
- Wireless streaming
- Automated geotagged settings
- Fitness-tracking for brain and body health
- And so much more
Technology has come a long way to help you live a more empowered life, and the innovations will only improve. Want a closer look at what today’s modern tech can do for your hearing health and access to the world around you? Don’t wait. Contact our caring team to schedule a hearing evaluation and personalized demo now!
Want to feel even more connected to the world around you through the power of sound? There’s an app for that!
Actually, we’ve compiled a list of six apps that can help support your communication wellness.
This Google app for Android-powered smartphones doesn’t translate but does transcribe in-person conversations in real time. The program — developed with Gallaudet University, the renowned U.S. school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students — can turn speech from more than 70 languages and dialects into text on your phone’s screen in a matter of seconds, facilitating communication with quick, helpful captions. It even supports bilingual chats, letting you toggle between languages, and allows you to type your responses rather than speak them if so desired. Bonus: The app can also notify you of important sounds — the beep of a smoke alarm, for example — in your home.
Though it can’t replace professional instruments or expert opinion, this app uses your compatible mobile device’s built-in microphone to measure the sound level in your environment. On a global scale, some researchers estimate that 16 to 24 percent of hearing loss is associated with occupational noise. Excess noise is one of the most preventable causes of hearing loss, making it important to know the sound levels where you potentially spend a lot of time — at work — so you can curb your risk. The app can also help approximate noise at stores, restaurants, or anywhere else you may need to protect your hearing.
How does artificial intelligence right at your wrist sound? This exciting smartwatch-based application can alert you to the sounds around you, making daily life even easier. The application, developed especially for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, uses machine learning to alert the user to certain types of sounds they can preselect — a car honk, a cat’s meow, a baby cry, or running water, for example. It’s not for emergencies or other high-risk situations but could help enhance general awareness of your environment.
This app for children and adults teaches basic American Sign Language (ASL) with Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who is deaf. ASL, common in the U.S. and Canada, offers a way to connect with others regardless of their hearing ability but can be especially useful for those who are or have friends or loved ones who are deaf or have a severe to profound hearing loss. Other ASL-instruction apps are also available, so consider using a few different ones to explore finger-spelling, conversational signing, building vocabulary, helping babies communicate, and more.
This app takes noise measurement to a whole other level with its decibel meter coupled with the ability to upload results to the user community via a searchable database. Users can look for restaurants, gyms, subways, and other spots by categories such as “quiet,” “moderate,” “loud,” or “very loud” sound-level ratings. Like the NIOSH Sound Level Meter, SoundPrint doesn’t replace a professional device, but it may help approximate noise levels in a given space.
OK, this one isn’t an app, but it’s just as convenient. The AGX Online Hearing Quiz — developed with audiology experts — takes only two minutes and provides a quick snapshot of your general hearing ability based on three broad aspects: the listening environment, the different tones you can hear, and your ability to hear speech amid noise. It doesn’t replace a true diagnostic hearing exam, but it will indicate if you can benefit from further testing.
As with any app, availability, functionality, and cost can change. The mobile apps listed above are free as of this writing, but compatibility with iOS- or Android- powered phones, tablets, or watches can vary per program, so be sure to read about them in the relevant online app store for more details.
Have questions about using apps with your hearing device? We’re here to help. Contact our caring team today!
Find Your Favorites
A whole world of apps awaits, so don’t hesitate to build your own list of healthy-hearing faves. Get started with these simple tips:
- Search by keyword, developer name, app title, or product category to turn up results you may want to check out.
- Carefully read the app description and system requirements. Some apps might also offer a demo you can preview before buying or downloading.
- Learn what others think of the app by reading users’ comments and professional reviews that may be available online.