Mark Cuban backed UK start-up launches smartphone hearing aid

Funding | Healthcare | International | South East | Technology

ChatableApps has today launched the world’s first universal hearing aid, using neuroscience-led artificial intelligence to enable those suffering from hearing loss to hear one-to-one conversations clearly, using an everyday smartphone and a standard pair of earbuds.

Hearing Loss affects 11 million in the UK, and the World Health Organisation has stated that 466 million people globally have ‘disabling hearing loss’, with this expected to reach 900mn by 2050. However, due to the high cost of traditional hearing aids, limited access via health services – e.g. via the so-called ‘postcode lottery’ – and non-inclusion in medical insurance, many of those suffering are currently going untreated.

Mark Cuban, who appears on the US version of Dragon’s Den and was an early investor in ChatableApps, said: “Chatable is using AI to address growing health care inequality by providing an affordable hearing aid app that helps with conversation.”

This is a problem that Dr Andrew Simpson PhD – auditory neuroscientist and founding member of ChatableApps – has made his life’s work to solve. Unlike traditional hearing aids, Kent based Dr Simpson has devised a brand new way of thinking about AI which reverse engineers the neural processes of the hearing brain and implements them as AI. This gives you an AI on your phone that works like a brain to make conversation easy to hear. Essentially, sound goes in complicated and comes out simple.

The performance levels Dr Simpson’s approach achieves surpass those of a traditional hearing aid when it comes to one-to-one conversation. This was confirmed in pre-clinical trials where 86% reported that the ChatableApps universal hearing aid was better for conversation than their traditional hearing aid.

“Our unique ground-up AI makes our universal hearing aid the first app capable of addressing the global hearing epidemic.” Giles Tongue, ChatableApps CEO, commented. “Following successful preclinical trials we have decided to launch immediately due to urgent demand from audiologists to help people struggling because of Coronavirus. With many unable to lipread due to face masks or unable to visit a hearing clinic in an emergency, our app provides a lifeline that will help people communicate.”

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