A new app optimizes every phone call for the individual’s needs, including adapting to contextual sound.
The SonicCloud phone call app uses a bespoke listening algorithm to completely personalize the sounds received by each ear. Users complete a hearing assessment to set their minimum audibility levels and loudness preferences for frequencies ranging from a 250 hertz (Hz) baritone to an 8000 Hz high-pitched bird. The app can then be further refined to help clarify specific sounds or letters that are particularly difficult for the user to understand over the phone.
As one of the co-founders has severe hearing loss, the team behind the app wanted to create something that would make a significant difference in users’ daily lives. SonicCloud can be used by anyone wanting to improve the quality of their phone calls, and an in-use adjustment capability lets users adapt the algorithm to a specific situation, such as walking down a busy street or background party noise. Users can also create sound profiles specifically for people they speak to regularly.
Other innovations helping people with hearing loss include a glasses add-on that lights up to alert deaf and hearing-impaired people to noises outside their immediate field of vision, and a wireless device that works on WiFi to provide amplified sound and audio description for films. How could local governments use projects like these to help make civic engagement activities more accessible?