Hearing aids can be notoriously difficult to tune for the unique needs of every patient. Audiologists have to assume a great deal about a person’s day to day environment in order to set the parameters appropriately. At SINTEF, a large research institution based in Trondheim, Norway, researchers developed an interactive platform which patients can use to intuitively program their own hearing aids.
A touchscreen display is used to bring together different sound profiles that a user typically experiences, such as peripheral voices at the office or cars passing by the front yard. The system simulates these audio situations and the patient provides feedback on what is easy or difficult to hear, allowing the audiologist to adjust the settings on the hearing aids accordingly. Additional sound sources can be pulled in and out of the visual scenes to create environments of different complexities, further perfecting the settings.
The system is also complemented by a smartphone app that can be used by the patient to record sounds that create particular hearing problems. These can then be imported into the in-clinic interface to adjust the hearing to compensate for the specific sounds that trouble the patients in their homes and places they tend to visit.