PHONAK'S NEW TELEHEALTH TECHNOLOGY ENABLES FULLY REMOTE HEARING AID FITTING
To meet the increased demand for remote hearing care during the COVID-19 pandemic, Phonak has introduced a suite of Phonak eSolutions featuring online hearing testing and real-time remote hearing aid fitting, programming, and fine-tuning. Phonak Remote Support allows patients to have their hearing aids remotely fit, programmed, and adjusted in real time in the environment they are in via the myPhonak app. Phonak hearing aids communicate information regarding the patient's acoustic environment to the hearing care professional, enabling on-the-spot adjustments. Phonak's new telehealth technology also includes the Phonak Hearing Screener, a free online hearing check tool. The results can be shared with a local hearing care professional to pre-assess hearing aid candidacy. Another new tool is AudiogramDirect, which allows providers to administer an audiogram and patients to receive a remote hearing test directly through their hearing aids with the myPhonak app. While this technology is not intended to replace clinical best practices nor in-person audiological care, it represents a way for practices to continue delivering quality hearing care while their patients remain safely at home, said Angela Pelosi, the director of global audiology at Phonak. “During this challenging time, it's especially important for those with hearing loss to have access to professional hearing health care, whether they are just beginning their hearing journey, are currently in-trial, or are experienced wearers needing fine-tuning,” she said.
CHATABLEAPPS TURNS SMARTPHONES INTO HEARING AIDS WITH AI
The ChatableApps Universal Hearing Aid app leverages neuroscience-led artificial intelligence (AI) to enable those with hearing loss to hear one-to-one conversations clearly with a smartphone and a standard pair of earbuds. Founder and chief scientist at ChatableApps, Andrew Simpson, PhD, has devised a new way of thinking about AI, which reverse-engineers the neural processes of the hearing brain and implements them as AI and gives users an AI on their phone that works like a brain to make conversations easy to hear. The performance levels Simpson's approach achieves surpass those of a traditional hearing aid—86 percent of participants in pre-clinical trials reported that the Chatable's Universal Hearing Aid app was better for conversation than their traditional hearing aid. The user interface is simple: Once downloaded, users simply moves two sliders—the volume boost slider and background noise slider—up and down to find their desired balance. Putting an auditory cortex on a smartphone has been a dream for a long time. As far as he knows, this is the most advanced real-time AI that has ever gone on a phone, said Simpson. “It's been a long road, but our preclinical trials reveal something of a medical breakthrough: a hearing aid that doesn't need hearing tests and going straight into the hands of people who can't afford a hearing aid.” The app is available for download on iOS and Android. It is free to access, with the option to subscribe to unlock maximum voice amplification and reduction of background noise.
CSD AWARDS COVID-19 MICRO-GRANTS TO NONPROFITS SUPPORTING THE DEAF COMMUNITY
The Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) has issued six micro-grants to support deaf and hard-of-hearing nonprofit organizations under a COVID-19 program administered by its CSD Unites Foundation. The six recipients receiving grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 include Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind in Tuscon, AZ; CaringWorks in Atlanta, GA; Health Signs Center in Frederick, MD; Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf Communities (HEARD) in Washington, DC; Partners in Deaf Health in Rochester, NY; and The Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham, MA. Funds from these CSD Unites micro-grants will support nonprofit organizations struggling with resources, managing funds, or adapting services as a result of COVID-19. This may include organizations that supply basic needs, including, but not limited to, food, relief from rent and other household expenses, and access to health care. The pandemic has disrupted the lives of so many, especially underserved communities like the deaf community and the organizations that serve them, said Sasha Ponappa, the director of CSD Unites. “We are very pleased to offer these micro-grants during such a difficult time and help deliver funding where it can have a significant and positive impact on the deaf and hard of hearing community,” she said.
SHOEBOX LAUNCHES MOBILE-FRIENDLY ONLINE HEARING SCREENING TEST
SHOEBOX's new online hearing screening test SHOEBOX Online uses patented dynamic range technology to produce an effective screening solution for web-based testing. It enables participants to remotely assess their hearing from any device—mobile phone, tablet, or laptop—and with headphones they already own. The test will sort participants into categories based on their hearing ability: good, hearing loss, or significant hearing loss. SHOEBOX Online is data-driven and based on thousands of data points. It is built by the same team that developed SHOEBOX's diagnostic audiometer, who analyzed and mapped the test against five factors to ensure effective categorization. The test is optimized for both mobile and desktop (iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows), and can be taken from the comfort of a participant's home, allowing businesses to reach their maximum possible audience. SHOEBOX Online is available at https://www.shoeboxonline.com/shoebox/.