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The Leightons Blog

Turn your iPhone into a hearing aid

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A new app has been developed which will turn your iPhone or iPod into a hearing aid.

The free BioAid application has been developed by scientists at Essex University, and is able to replicate how the human ear works. Using a multi-channel device, sounds can be entered via a microphone on the iPod or iPhone and then it will be filtered into various frequency bands.

Unlike other apps, which simply boost or amplify sounds, each sound is translated into different frequencies separately. The channels are then combined to develop a single output sound. Not only will this clear up distortion more efficiently, but it will allow users to fine-tune with four distinct settings so that they can find the perfect harmony, depending on the condition of their hearing loss.

The mobile application was developed by both Professor Ray Meddis and Nick Clark, both from the university’s Psychology department.

In a statement, Professor Meddis said: "People with hearing impairment very often withdraw from public life. Sounds are a complicated mixture of different frequencies and hearing loss is usually a loss of sensitivity to some but not all frequencies. BioAid is different because it compresses the very loud sounds that can make social situations like going to the pub, cinema or a birthday party intolerable.”

Mr Meddis went on to argue that as phones become more technologically advanced and smaller in years to come, the opportunities with hearing loss are limitless. With the algorithm established and Wi-Fi internet, individuals will soon be able to adjust their hearing remotely, and then can monitor what is specifically best for them.

The project was funded by both the EPSRC and hearing specialist firm Phonak, in order to see how hearing aids can be developed in the future.

It is important to note however that the app is in no way a suitable replacement for an actual hearing aid if you are suffering from hearing loss. 

BioAid is available on iTunes.

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