A New Wave of Alerting Devices for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing | Using Smart Tech & Sound Recognition

Do you remember the very first version of an automated speech-to-text app? Where there were so many errors and words displayed incorrectly?

It reminds me of times when we would get our hearing test. When the audiologist would say, “Repeat after me, ” with a paper over their mouth.

“Ice cream,” the audiologist says.

“I’m free, ” you repeat.

“Baseball, ” the audiologist commands.

“Vase all ?” you repeat.

“Hot Dog”

“Hot tall?” you repeat confusingly.

Then you get that weird look from the eyes of your audiologist, wondering how in the world do you ever survive.

Speech-to-text applications in the early days were just as best as our performance at our hearing examination. We’ve seen it across social media at how bad it can be. People talk about how speech to text applications failed to get the right words using the hashtag #Craptions movement. 

When the technology first came out, the application improved by saving and recording your speech without you knowing. Similarly, transcribers, like those who perform Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services, would write the correct words from the speaker. As a result, the applications got better and better by accommodating various languages, phonetics, and accents over time.

Today, if you haven’t seen it already, the terms sound recognition, sound notification, sound detection, sound identification or sound awareness bring new innovative solutions for people with hearing loss. In fact, this new advanced technology will soon replace traditional alerting devices. 

The new modern alerting devices are using the same technology as speech-to-text. Additionally, these smart techs are also transitioning from error-prone devices to robust solutions.

The Beginning of Smart Alerting Devices

Intelligent sound detection started over ten years ago in the research labs at universities. And now, companies are part of a movement to advance these technologies making new senses with sounds. Sound awareness is a mix of science and sound. They bring artificial intelligence and machine learning to mimic the human senses. Consequently, making our lives easier. 

For these apps to get better at detecting and correcting noises, it requires audio recording or audio data. On the condition that data is available, a collection of audio data will allow a unique computing technique to make better predictions over time. That being the case, data needs to be available. Yet, new laws make it harder for companies to collect data as in the past. Before, they would secretly record you without your consent. Companies make it difficult for you to manipulate how you want your data to be used from an app. That is how they were able to collect the data they needed to make the app better. This is wrong and deceitful behaviour.

The best data comes from real-life experiences. Everyone holds a piece to the puzzle together. Each of our parts makes things more transparent for us all. By contributing, you support yourself and others who hold other details or can’t have access to the puzzle pieces.

Smart Alerting Device Companies

You should know about the other companies making waves too. Oddly, you might think it is strange for us to show our competitors. Indeed, most companies do not share or talk about other companies in their space, but I believe Lisnen is different. As a matter of fact, we believe in transparency and our community knowing what else is out there. So we show up to help each other, not to take away. We aim to get you to live your best possible life without barriers that you all often experience and know too well.

The exciting thing about the list of companies is that many were founded by people with lived experiences. So naturally, these founders want to find a way to solve the problem we all know too well. Actually, big tech companies have internal employee groups of people with hearing loss working on building techs as side projects for some.

All of us are in our infancy. Even more, we have taken many different paths to get to where we are. Now, meet the companies bringing access to sounds to assist people with hearing loss!

Hardware Alert Devices

Visualfy

Based in Spain, Visualfy builds devices that apply artificial intelligence to their product. They focus on unique designs to provide a flair to the previous medical device-looking alerting solutions. 

See Sound

Started by a group of deaf founders, they provide devices that alert to sounds alongside pairing with other smart devices. They just don’t do sound recognition for deaf and hard of hearing but provide sound awareness for other industries as well.

SmartEar

Based out of France, the visual alarm system allows users to receive alerts on their custom hardware. In addition, they have a complementary app that will enable you to record sounds and operate their glow lights.

Amazon

Amazon has sound recognition features using their Alexa Routine and Alexa Guard. Water running, appliance beeping, dog barking, breaking glass, fire alarm, and coughing are some of the solutions using Echo or other Alexa compatible speaker systems.

Wearables Alert Devices

Neosensory

This was founded by a brain scientist on a futuristic mission to replace sounds with a new language of touch. They provide a customizable wearable solution to identify several sounds in the environment.

SoundWatch

Right from a research lab is an app for only android watch wearers. This sound recognition app runs right from your watch and alerts you when sounds around you. 

Smartphone Apps Alert Devices

Samsung

The original sound recognition accessibility feature could be found in some Samsung devices many years ago, and other companies have since followed (or copied – not sure). But Samsung doesn’t heavily promote it, but it can be found on their device accessibility settings.

Apple Accessibility Feature

Tucked into the settings feature of iPhone devices are the sound notification features giving users the ability to be alerted to alarms, animals, household appliances and people’s noises for day-to-day sounds but not for high-risk situations.

Live Transcribe App (Sound Recognition)

This can be a stand-alone or part of the Live Transcribe application. Android users can be aware of sounds from music to alarms and the speech-to-text app or just on its own. It gives a historical timeline of sounds that the app picked up.

Hearing AI

This was a project led by a Microsoft internal employee and led by a female tech (yeah, to more diversity in tech! Almost all others are founded by men). The team works on other apps like Seeing AI. Currently, there is a virtual reality technology in the works.

SenseAlert

Their app alerts to familiar sounds found in almost all solutions and pairs with other smart devices. The app is free after a certain amount of detection. Otherwise, you will need to pay.

SpeakLiz

More than a sound recognition app, this app is a multifeatured app that has sound recognition, speech to text and sign language recognition all in one.

Lisnen

And of course, there is us! This may be the cue for us to brag! Lisnen’s goal is to pay attention to what you want and need to feel safe and secure in any environment. We do not want to force you to spend lots of money, lock you into choosing one brand over another or make you select alerts to unnecessary sounds that add no value to you. That’s our commitment to you.

New technologies rarely get developed in our space every year, like mainstream technologies. Yet, we are in a period where technologies are constantly innovating. Brands like Lisnen make sure that attention is given to our needs. Moreover, nothing should stop us from pushing for new and better ways to bring safety and independence to our community. If you want to contribute to our application, consider downloading our free crowdsourcing app today!

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