According to the World Health Organization, almost 375 million people in the world are suffering from hearing loss related disabilities. The more alarming fact is that an estimate of 1.1 billion people aged between 12 - 35 years old globally is already at risk of hearing loss.
The bigger question is – what is the greatest factor contributing to hearing loss in people? As per the National Center for Environment Health (USA), it’s long term exposure to loud noises.
We have about 15,000 fine thread-like auditory cells in each ear, which can get permanently damaged if exposed to loud noises for long. The damage of auditory cells is an irreversible process which means we can’t grow them back.
Over the last decade, the primary source of large sound doses has been the recreational use of headphones, which has increased with the growing popularity of digital media. According to a survey by Deafness Research UK, 1 out of 3 people under the age of 35 is suffering from chronic permanent hearing damage caused by the use of headphones either for music or gaming.
It wouldn’t be surprising if you consider the fact that “the average Briton enjoys just 52 minutes of silence a day.” The research carried out by LimitEar, a British company specializes in hearing loss prevention, was to shed light on Britain’s listening habits. The audio firm has cooperated with top silicon manufacturers including Qualcomm to develop HearAngel, a hearing safeguarding software for wireless headphones and smartphones that evaluates the effects of your listening and alerts you when you’re at risk of overexposure.
The latest offering has emerged from the brilliant idea of Steve Blincoe, a sound engineer working with ITV’s coverage of Toure de France, and another hearing protection expert Stephen Wheatley, a trustee of the UK Hearing Conservation Association and CEO of HearAngel.
After noticing the commentators and presenters around him having had hearing problems due to the prolonged use of headphones, Blincoe had conceptualized the idea of a technology that can be used with the headphones to restrict loud volume. He is now the co-founder and non-executive director of his own brainchild.
Out of all the sounds we’re exposed to, it’s only the 1% that we want to hear, rest the noise. Each time when we are exposed to noise, we are at risk of damaging our hearing capability.
HearAngel, an innovative and patent-protected technology can be used with smartphone devices and wireless headphones to evaluate a person’s exposure to reproduced sound. It tracks our listening habits to calculate the effect of what we are listening to, and notify you if you’re at risk of hearing loss – working like ‘Fitbit’ for your ears.
With an interesting concept of the Daily Sound Allowance (DSA), which measures and safeguards you from overexposure to sound doses, the HearAngel app is designed to check the level of high-volume noise passing through the headphones, allowing the volume to be raised only for a short span of time to be in the recommended safe exposure levels.
The development of HearAngel has been welcomed as a solution to the alarming rise of hearing loss from recreational uses, one of the biggest sources of hearing loss in young adults.