- Published on 15 February 2020
Sound processing technology has been developed in the UK to help hearing loss sufferers cope with mobile phone calls, using a service delivered by the mobile network Audacious through the giant retailer and pharmacy chain, Boots.
Audiology experts from the University of Cambridge have worked with Audacious to create the solution. They include renowned hearing care academic Professor Brian Moore, who sums up both the problem and the technology thus: "Holding a telephone at the entrance to the ear canal can make it difficult to understand what is being said for people who wear behind-the-ear hearing aids. Audacious replaces the function of the hearing aid by including signal processing to compensate for hearing loss in the mobile network."
"The processing is also tailored to the individual hearing ability of the user, by means of an initial hearing test that is used to set up a personal hearing profile. This can improve intelligibility and make it easier to understand the person on the other end," explains Prof. Moore.
According to a Survey of 2,007 British adults conducted by Opinium in July 2019, nine in ten (90%) people with hearing loss feel frustrated due to struggling to hear on mobile calls, and nearly seven in 10 (69%) reported the communication breakdown left them feeling stressed.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of people with hearing loss reported avoiding answering the phone altogether due to concerns of not hearing the person on the other end. As a result, feelings of isolation were experienced by 22% of those surveyed.
Boots UK Limited (formerly Boots the Chemists) is a standard fixture of any UK High Street retail scene, offering hearing care services in 534 of its more than 2,500 stores across Britain. The company's audiologists will receive special training on the Audacious service.
“Holding conversation on the phone when you have a hearing loss and no visual cues to help piece together the conversation can take a lot of concentration and be physically draining, so people will often avoid taking calls. We are excited to be able to provide our customers with a solution to make that experience easier and more enjoyable.”said Boots Hearingcare, Director of Professional Standards, Karen Shepherd, who is also the President of the British Academy of Audiology.
Audacious CEO, Rob Shardlow said: “We are proud to be the first mobile network to partner with Boots Hearingcare, to realise our shared mission to support people with hearing loss. Audacious is training all Boots Hearingcare audiologists on this medically certified, world-first technology to ensure they are skilled to empower people across the UK on this innovative route to having clearer conversations and staying connected.”