The Future of Sound
Sound plays an integral part of our surroundings and environment. It's been getting more and more attention, and in the past year or so a whole field of voice UX for apps (not just in the health world) has been taking off. Below are a few articles I found interesting to think about - how sounds can improve medical teams' work in hospital, the future of hearing aids, and the future of hearable technology in general.
Designing Sounds in Hospitals (99% Invisible): I'd never really given much though to the importance of sounds in our health systems (and how relatively little thought has been invested in designing the sound ecosystem in our hospitals so far). This podcast discusses how sounds in our hospitals today are too loud (leading to sound fatigue), give too little information (what's wrong with the patient?, which metric is off?), and leave much to be improved and desired. Fascinating insights made by Man Made Music.
The Future of Hearables (IEEE Spectrum): A great review of all of the advancements (and expected advancements) in the hearable space. What physiological information can be accessed through the ear? Turns out we are already able to measure brain electrical activity, blood oxygen, stress hormone levels, movement/falls, eye movements, vagus nerves (among a dozen major cranial nerve pairs that could be stimulated to help treat PTSD, depression, epilepsy, etc.), temperature, skin resistance and heart rate. This article discusses the various wearable capabilities we can expect to see in the next few years: AI-based virtual assistants found in our ears; Smart hearing aids that can recognize stress (using physiological data and deep learning tools) and identify who we want to hear among competing voices; and hearables that can treat tinnitus (ringing in the ears generally caused by the loss of sensory cells in the cochlea or damage to neural cells along the route from the cochlea to the brain). Needless to say these new devices will arrive with a slew of privacy and legal issues. Should a device let you know if your speech indicates you have a psychological issue? What happens if your device was on at a crime scene? It'll be interesting to see how some of the devices mentioned develop in the next few years.
First AI Voice Control Hearing Aid, LiNX Quattro (Wearable Technologies): Launched at CES in January of this year, the ReSound LiNX Quattro hearing aid is one of the world’s pioneer "smart" hearing aids. The hearing aid can talk with Siri, allows for noise cancellation, wind reduction filters, volume controls, and the streaming of calls, music and TV. It learns a users preferences over time and adjusts to their environments (i.e. you can have different profiles, for example, one where the volume in each ear is different). Check out their video in the article link above.