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App turns iPhone into a hearing aid
BioAid uses the microphone and headphone functions of smartphones to amplify the sounds around deaf users in real-time.
Many of those with hearing problems have consigned themselves to wearing a hearing aid – which can often be cumbersome and expensive. The SCS1000 smart watch has already made steps towards helping deaf people remain aware of their surroundings, and now UK-based project BioAid is harnessing the power of smartphones to provide an easier and cheaper way to amplify the sounds around them.

The concept is quite a simple one: the app takes in sounds from the user’s surroundings using the iPhone’s built-in microphone, amplifies it using algorithms tailored to the user, and plays it back through either the loudspeaker or headphones in real-time. Users can configure the app using one of six settings to best suit their condition, which can then be fine tuned even further. Professor Ray Meddis – emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Essex, who is part of the team at BioAid – explains more about the project in the video.

While it’s true that the system currently requires the hard of hearing to keep their iPhones on them as well as use headphones, the team hope that – with advances such as smaller Bluetooth-enabled headphones and smart watches – that an app such as BioAid could become a feasible and inexpensive way to improve the quality of life of deaf people. For now, a beta version of the app is available for free on the App Store. Investors – one to get in on early?