Researchers at the University of Essex have developed a free mobile app that turns an iPhone or iPod into a hearing aid, using the phone’s microphone and a set of headphon.
Unlike standard hearing aids that simply amplify all sounds, the BioAid app is inspired by biology and replicates the complexities of the human ear. Its creators say it puts the user in control, is available to anyone, anywhere, without the need for a hearing test, and potentially holds the key to a future where tiny, phone-based hearing aids can be dispensed and adjusted remotely.
BioAid, which is available on iTunes, has been developed by Professor Ray Meddis of Essex’s Department of Psychology with Nick Clark, formerly a Research Officer in the Department and Dr Wendy Lecluyse of University Campus Suffolk. Unlike standard aids that have a single setting, BioAid has six fixed settings each of which has four fine-tuning settings allowing the user to find the perfect match for their deafness.
Professor Meddis explained: “It’s not inconceivable that we’ll wear phones on our wrist in the near future, or even as tiny devices behind the ear. With the BioAid algorithm and wi-fi technology, we could see dispensers able to remotely adjust the settings on a phone-based aid and even monitor use to ensure the user is getting the most out of it.”
The development of BioAid, which has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Phonak, is part of a research project to influence the future of hearing aids. The researchers want to hear about people’s experiences using BioAid so that they can continue to perfect the technology. Users can get in touch, and find further information at: http://bioaid.org.uk/.
Download BioAid, the biologically inspired hearing aid, at iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/bioaid/id577764716