We are lucky to be living in an age where we can use technology to help people with disabilities operate more freely in circumstances which most people take for granted every day. How do you know when your baby is crying if you have a hearing loss? Will you hear someone knocking on your door? These may seem like small issues to most of us, but those with a hearing loss struggle with many “normal” auditory signals.
Apple Introduces iOS 14
The new Apple iOS 14, unveiled at their annual WWDC keynote on June 23, has an exciting new feature that will help those with a hearing loss by alerting them to everyday sounds that they might otherwise miss. Using the Accessibility menu, you can set the iPhone to recognize 14 different sounds. Imagine feeling your phone vibrating if someone knocks on your door or if the fire alarm goes off.
Amplifying Your Hearing Aid
Hearing aids can now do so much more than amplify conversations. Bluetooth connectivity allows hearing aids to communicate with smart cell phones. Your cell phone can now become a remote control to allow you to customize and personalize the settings in your hearing aids. You can stream audio signals directly from your phone, computer, or television straight into your hearing aids for crystal-clear sound. Your phone can become your desktop microphone to help you pick out speech in a meeting or restaurant. And now, your phone will alert you to critical environmental sounds. Linking hearing aids to the powerful processors found in phones will lead to more technological advances.
Tech giants such as Amazon and Google have recently introduced AI-based sound recognition for personal safety measures. Amazon Alexa Guard detects the sound of alarms and broken glass, and Google’s Pixel phones can detect a car crash and call emergency services on your behalf.
For now, Apple is discouraging anyone from depending on it for staying safe. Still, it’s a significant first step for everyday accessibility purposes and a handy tool as a second pair of ears.
Great job, Apple. We are excited about the ever-improving technologies out there and look forward to seeing these features in real time.