Mobile app turns iPhone into hearing aid

27 March 2013
By Sofia Mitra-Thakur
Mobile version
Share |
The BioAid hearing aid algorithm based on biological processes occurring in the ear

The BioAid hearing aid algorithm based on biological processes occurring in the ear

Researchers at the University of Essex have developed a mobile app that turns an iPhone into a hearing aid which they say could revolutionise the future for people with hearing loss.

Unlike standard hearing aids that simply amplify all sounds, the BioAid app is inspired by biological processes and replicates the complexities of the human ear.

The researchers say it puts the user in control 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 was 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 impairment.

"We are very excited about the potential of BioAid which could genuinely change lives," Professor Meddis said.

"Even if they have a hearing aid, the technology is not sophisticated enough to offer a tailor-made solution to their impairment and in many cases people simply stop using them.

"Sounds are a complicated mixture of different frequencies and hearing loss is usually a loss of sensitivity to some but not all frequencies.

"Standard hearing aids amplify some frequencies more than others but BioAid is different because it also compresses the very loud sounds that can make social situations like going to the pub, cinema or a birthday party intolerable."

Clark added: "The mobile phone is a great platform for rapidly transferring hearing aid technology from the laboratory to the hands of the public.

"Standard hearing aids, which can cost thousands of pounds, are only dispensed by a professional after a hearing test.

"BioAid offers a simple alternative accessible to anyone with an iPhone or iPod. 

"The hearing test is replaced by an exploratory process, allowing users to find which setting works best for them.

"In the short term, people unsure about visiting a hearing care professional might be swayed to do so by BioAid, which can only be a good thing.”

As phones get smaller and technology continues to advance, the researchers believe the BioAid project has the potential to radically change the future of hearing devices.

"It’s not inconceivable that we’ll wear phones on our wrist in the near future, or even as tiny devices behind the ear," Professor Meddis said.

"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."

Wendy Lecluyse added: "This new device opens up many intriguing research possibilities allowing scientists to explore new ideas in hearing aid design and how they work in everyday settings.

"At the moment, we are particularly interested to find out how the preferred setting of each user corresponds with their hearing problem."

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.

Further information:

Read more about the BioAid

Download the BioAid app on iTunes

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1606

"Where would Frankenstein and his creative mind fit into today's workplace? Should we fear technological developments or embrace them?"

E&T jobs

  • Graduate Electrical Engineers

    AECOM
    • United Kingdom and Ireland
    • Competitive

    Due to the diverse nature of our business there are many different teams each with very different responsibilities.

    • Recruiter: AECOM

    Apply for this job

  • Network Innovation Engineer / Analyst - UK Power Sector

    Premium job

    Nortech Management Ltd
    • Birmingham, West Midlands or Pershore (Worcestershire)
    • £30,000 - £35,000 (depending on experience) + benefits

    Network Innovation Engineer / Analyst to join a team of talented technology enthusiasts who design and support the low carbon networks of the future.

    • Recruiter: Nortech Management Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Engineer with Strong telecoms background

    Premium job

    Sure South Atlantic Ltd
    • Falkland Islands

    Sure South Atlantic Ltd currently has a unique engineering opportunity in their Falkland Islands office. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, teeming ...

    • Recruiter: Sure South Atlantic Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Cyber, Communication, Information and Data Scientist roles

    Premium job

    Dstl
    • Porton Down, Salisbury
    • Competitive salaries

    Information is everything. Use it to serve your country and help keep us safe.

    • Recruiter: Dstl

    Apply for this job

  • Production Engineer

    Premium job

    Compact Engineering
    • Thirsk / Leeds / Banbury / Colchester / Cambridge
    • Salary will be competitive and commensurate with experience, knowledge, aptitude and capability

    A Production Engineer with some knowledge and understanding of radiant energy transfer.

    • Recruiter: Compact Engineering

    Apply for this job

  • Electronics Engineer

    Premium job

    Nikon Metrology Europe
    • Tring, Hertfordshire

    Nikon Metrology is looking for an Electronics Engineer to join our Electronics Team based in Tring (UK).

    • Recruiter: Nikon Metrology Europe

    Apply for this job

  • Engineering Manager

    BAE Systems
    • Hampshire, England, Portsmouth
    • Competitive package

    Would you like to play a vital role in managing and implementing the correct governance in order to enable BAE Systems to provide assurance and integrity of supply chain data? We currently have a vacancy for an Engineering Manager - Product Integrity

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Engineering Project Manager - Electrical & Automation

    Nestle
    • York, North Yorkshire
    • c£45,000 + Car Allowance + Bonus + Excellent Benefits

    Nestlé Product Technology Centre in York currently has an excellent opportunity for an Engineering Project Manager

    • Recruiter: Nestle

    Apply for this job

  • Consultant Engineer - Test

    BAE Systems
    • Farnborough, Hampshire, England
    • Negotiable

    Consultant Engineer - Test Would you like to be a lead within an exciting team working on one of the UK's largest defence projects? We currently have a vacancy for a Consultant Engineer - Test at our site in Ash Vale. As a Consultant Engineer - Test, you

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • ELECTRICAL PROJECT ENGINEER

    SSE
    • Reading, Berkshire
    • SALARY: £37,588 TO £55,669 + CAR (SSE8/9), DEPENDING ON SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE

    SSE are looking to recruit an Electrical Project Engineer into office in Reading

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T