Apple allows hearing research results accessible to tens of thousands of people throughout the United States, enabling them to better understand their hearing health. Users may participate in the hearing analysis and add to their long-term hearing health data using their iPhone or Apple Watch.
The daily average ambient sound exposure of 25% of participants, which includes traffic, machinery, public transportation, and other sources, is higher than the WHO recommended limit, and nearly 50% of participants work in a noisy environment.
“The Apple Hearing Study is one of the studies launched within the Research app that is helping democratize how medical research is conducted by giving Apple customers the ability to participate in groundbreaking research using technology they’ve already made a part of their everyday lives. The study is being conducted in collaboration with the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and data is being shared with the World Health Organization’s Make Listening Safe initiative.” the company said.
Users in the US are participating in the Apple Hearing Study via the Research app.
“By 2050, the WHO estimates more than 700 million people globally will experience profound hearing loss. March 3 is designated as World Hearing Day, amplifying a global call to address hearing loss and related issues. Reduced hearing can affect a person’s health and well-being in many ways, such as contributing to reduced communication, feelings of isolation, loneliness, and withdrawal.”
“Hearing loss can impact a person in many ways, and our goal is to drive increased focus on the importance of hearing health across decision-makers and the general population,” said Ren Minghui, assistant director-general of the World Health Organization. “We encourage people to take the appropriate steps to protect their hearing and to seek care when needed.”
One out of every ten participants has weekly headphone exposure that reaches the WHO’s suggested limit. The Noise app on Apple Watch will send alerts to users when noise levels in the environment are extremely damaging to their hearing health.
A professional diagnosis of hearing loss was given to around 10% of Apple Hearing Study participants. Despite the fact that hearing aids and cochlear implants can help minimize the risk of hearing loss, 75% of these individuals do not use them.
According to data obtained through the study’s hearing tests, 20% of participants have hearing loss that is associated with noise sensitivity, while 10% have hearing loss that is not consistent with WHO standards. Nearly half of the participants hadn’t had their hearing examined by a specialist in at least ten years. In addition, 25% of participants report hearing ringing in their ears once or twice a week or more, which may indicate a hearing loss. All should get their hearing health tested by a specialist on a regular basis.
“One year into the Apple Hearing Study, we’ve generated significant insights into everyday noise exposures and the impacts of those exposures on hearing among our participants. The national scale of this study is unprecedented. We look forward to sharing new scientific findings, as well as informing policy to improve and promote hearing health, as the study progresses,” said Rick Neitzel, associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
“Even during this pandemic, when many people are staying home, we’re still seeing 25 percent of our participants experiencing high environmental sound exposures. The results of this study can improve our understanding of potentially harmful exposures, and help identify ways that people can proactively protect their hearing.”
Apple technology’s extensive support will help advance hearing health and accessibility with just a tap. Headphone recommendations feature on iPhone and iPad, users can customize headphone audio levels to their need.
- Monitor and protect hearing health: With the Noise app, Apple Watch users can enable notifications that alert when environmental noise levels might affect their hearing health. The Health app on iPhone keeps track of a user’s history of exposure to sound levels and informs whether headphones or environmental levels have exceeded those recommended by WHO standards.
- Use Apple devices to hear more clearly: AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max can help hearing in loud places with Live Listen, which enables iPhone to function as a directional microphone. In addition, Transparency mode on AirPods Pro or AirPods Max can let outside sound in, so users can hear what’s going on around them.
- Set up Headphone Accommodations to make them sound more crisp and clear: Through a series of listening tests, iPhone enables users to customize headphone audio to their preferences. With iOS, they can upload personal audiograms and then tailor headphone audio output to reflect unique audiogram data. Mono Audio settings are also available to support those who may have hearing loss in only one ear.
- Use the Made for iPhone hearing device program: Hearing aid and sound processor wearers can stream audio such as phone and FaceTime calls, music, Siri, and other content directly from iPhone to their hearing device. It is the most advanced and extensive smartphone-hearing device platform in the world, with nearly 200 hearing device models available from more than 40 manufacturers.
- Access support for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community: Hearing accessibility on iOS includes several features to support people who are profoundly deaf or hard of hearing, like Sound Recognition; FaceTime, including sign language detection in Group FaceTime; sensory alerts; and Type to Siri.
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