Hearables account for a growing segment of the wearables market. In 2021, IDC predicted hearables would dominate the double-digit growth in wearables overall through 2024. Most developers in the hearables category focus on devices, in categories such as earbuds, hearing aids, voice amplifiers, and headphones. Singular Hearing takes a different course. Singular Hearing is a division of Singular Software, an audio and video production software tool developer. Singular’s mobile app HeardThat uses your iOS or Android smartphone as an assistive hearing device that separates voice from noise.

HeardThat isn’t officially released yet, but you can download it to install on your iOS or Android smartphone to help test the app. HeardThat uses machine-learning to differentiate between speech and regular noise. Some hearing devices use amplifiers to turn up the volume on all sound. Many hearables include software modes to emphasize the frequencies used in speech. HeardThat’s analyzes all sounds using machine-learning-derived algorithms. The app records what it hears and then plays it back almost instantly. A user can slide a dial in the app from left to right to select from zero to 100% noise suppression. There are two modes: directional and non-directional. With directional mode you point your smartphone’s microphone at the person or in the direction of people you are talking with or just wish to hear better. Non-directional mode processes sound from all directions.

I checked out the current Android version (0.19.20) of HeardThat. I installed the software with my Samsung Galaxy Note8 and then tried it with a set of standard AKG wired earphones that came with the Note8. I also tested HeardThat with a pair of Phonak AI-powered hearing aids. I’m going to try some additional testing in environments with varying noise characteristics because I was frankly surprised at how well the app suppressed non-speech noise (my wife tapping on her desk) with the earphones but left her speech intact and boosted the volume just a bit. I was less impressed when I tried HeardThat with Phonak hearing aids connected to the Note8 via Bluetooth. Singular suggests turning the hearing aid volume down very low to allow the smartphone and the app to produce sound. The volume was too low for me, but I suspect HeardThat’s market isn’t hearing aid users. Using sophisticated AI-powered hearing aids as pass-through audio devices is a non-starter.

I encourage you to try HeardThat via the test link. You might be surprised at how well the app separates other noise from speech. I was.