IHearYou® is the world’s first hearing aid solution that enables patients to easily tune their acoustic preferences themselves, instead of an audiologist. The modern, attractive hearing system uses a Bluetooth enabled programmer to connect hearing aids to a smartphone application patients use to adjust their settings. In Australia, more than 4 million people have hearing loss and many risk physical, cognitive and mental health issues by not addressing it. IHearYou® removes barriers that prevent people from obtaining hearing aids, like cost, distance and stigma. It also eliminates the major industry problem of unsatisfactory tuning by audiologists, ensuring what a patient hears is exactly right for their needs.
IHearYou® is the world’s first smartphone based ‘self-fit’ hearing aid system that allows people with hearing difficulties to manage their own hearing. The system gives patients access to an advanced range of acoustic characteristics they can easily customise themselves. Research shows the greater the sense of involvement in the hearing aid set-up process a patient has, the greater benefit they receive. Our user-centric system empowers hearing aid wearers with a new level of personal control, removing the financial burden and loss of time associated with visiting an audiologist solely for fine tuning. Settings can be easily adjusted over time, should a patient’s hearing, environments or preferences change.
Online hearing test results form a patient’s initial IHearYou® settings. Audiologist tuning rarely takes place in real-world situations, and people often refuse to wear their hearing aids if they don’t sound ‘right’. IHearYou® addresses this problem by placing ‘a virtual audiologist in your pocket’. It enables patients to create a range of ‘special programs’ with settings optimised for different listening situations – like a noisy cafe. A memory in our hearing devices collects this information, and programs can be accessed as needed by holding down a small switch. Once IHearYou® has been configured our hearing aids will adapt to sound changes in an environment, such as sudden crowd cheers in a sporting arena.
Study shows people avoid hearing aids because of perceived unattractiveness and stigma, so we developed a system whose aesthetics focus on health, wellness and discretion. Using our development partner Planet Innovation’s expertise, IHearYou®’s application graphics were designed with a minimalistic elegance that makes it both attractive and easy to navigate. Modelled on sound waves and geometries found in nature, the programmer, Incus, ergonomically fits to the hand and slips easily into a pocket – allowing for maximum mobility and in-situ reprogramming. IHearYou® gives the power of disclosure to users; they can use the aesthetically appealing system in public and decide whether or not to expose its function.
IHearYou® translates potentially unfamiliar audiology theory and terms into an interface that is quick and easy to navigate by the average user. Extensively tested in our target demographic of 60-plus, our Beta trial showed users find IHearYou® simple to set up without instructions. The durable programmer is efficiently powered by a triple A battery and can be easily connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth; colour coded cords at the end of a Y shaped cable differentiate left from right hearing aid leads; and the application’s interface logically guides the patient through each step. Thorough testing and correlating refinements ensured a successful pairing of contemporary graphic design and interface usability.
IHearYou® is designed as a products and services system that saves patients thousands of dollars due to the inbuilt productivity gains of centralised expert support. Patients are granted unlimited internet and telecommunications based assessment and rehabilitation. We call this ‘tele-audiology’. Our support team can view a patient’s adjustment settings and offer technical and medical advice; they ensure acoustic settings are appropriate for the patient and contact them if changes suggestive of a serious underlying condition are observed. Should a patient use a PC instead of a smartphone, our technicians can, with permission, take over the computer to assist with tuning and be the ‘expert in your living room’.
Expert feedback and research into suitable materials and manufacturing techniques informed IHearYou®’s design, resulting in a reliable, high quality end product that positions us as world leaders in hearing health. In contrast to the hearing aid industry’s clinic-focused model, IHearYou® allows for a direct-to-consumer model that saves patients from audiologist fine-tuning costs and allows us to provide premium hearing aids at a fraction of the cost of comparable devices. IHearYou® recouped investment costs within six months of implementation. If adopted as industry standard, this model could reduce the cost of hearing health care by approximately 70 percent (based on UK data).