We write often about advances in over-the-counter hearables suitable for moderate hearing impairments that users can purchase without seeing an audiologist. Most recently we covered Nuheara’s laudable third-generation IQbuds MAX. We’ve also written about advances in sound processing in conventional hearing aids, such as the Phonax Audeo Paradise platform.
Hauppauge, New York-based hearing aid manufacturer Widex recently announced a new machine-learning-driven hearing solution that personalizes user hearing experiences in several steps. The Widex SoundSense Learn AI platform uses anonymized information collected from its users worldwide. The global data consists of user frequency preferences for a range of different hearing environments.
New Widex users respond to a series of A-B comparisons that Widex creates from the cloud-based environments data. Users indicate their preferences among 13 settings each for low, mid-range, and high frequencies within each environment. According to Widex, fully testing each frequency in each of the environments would require more than 2 million tests. The SoundSense Learn algorithms reduce the number of A-B comparisons required to about a dozen tests to determine the optimal settings for an individual in all listening environments.
That initial frequency per environment survey is just the beginning, however. SoundSense Learn also tracks ongoing user adjustments in real-time and stores that data for each individual to fine-tune the frequency settings for various environments. Users can store the setting profiles on smartphones to activate when needed and can also share the programs anonymously in the cloud for access by other Widex SoundSense Learn users.
I haven’t experienced the Widex SoundSense system, but it addresses one of the cumbersome realities of other hearing aid platforms that don’t self-adjust. With most hearing aids, users need to return to audiologists on a regular schedule for testing and hearing aid adjustments. The Widex news release doesn’t mention that SoundSense Learn can minimize or replace audiologist visits, but that sounds a likely outcome with a self-adjusting platform that learns and modifies settings over time. Widex SoundSense Learn is currently available in Widex Moment hearing aids.