Site & Directory Search
Sign In


Forgot your password?

Haven't registered yet?

Calendar
2014 Spectrum Fall Issue







Mobile Apps for Hearing Health

By Amy Boudin, Au.D.; Gayla L. Poling, Ph.D.; and COL (RET) Kathy Gates



Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence

Editorial note by Kristy Casto

The Department of Defense (DoD) established the Hearing Center of Excellence (HCE) to focus on the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment and rehabilitation of hearing loss and auditory injury. The HCE was legislated by Congress in the FY 2009 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and directed to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), institutions of higher education and other appropriate public and private entities.

The HCE’s mission is to heighten military readiness and optimize quality of life through collaborative leadership and advocacy for hearing and balance health initiatives. The HCE works to consolidate and distribute the latest information about hearing loss prevention, hearing conservation, and clinical care and research advancements in best practices for hearing loss and auditory injury from military, industry and academic resources.

None of the Apps listed in this article have been tested or approved by HCE. The Sound Level Meter Apps do not meet OSHA Type 2 measurements for use in Hearing Conservation.



We Live in a Noisy World
An estimated one out of every three cases of hearing loss is caused by excess noise exposure, known as noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL. Noise and hearing loss create a significant burden for our military, since noise exposure is one of the primary environmental hazards faced by all service members, regardless of specialty. Moreover, our service members, veterans, family members, and friends are exposed to noise hazards in recreational settings that increase their risk for NIHL.

Therefore, it is critical that hearing loss prevention strategies become a daily practice, not just for those whose jobs are known to involve noise-hazardous risks. Advancing technologies and mobile applications (apps) offer easily accessible, affordable, and interactive ways to focus on hearing health.


Get Connected
Several affordable and interactive smart phone and tablet apps are currently available to bring awareness to hearing health. There are several options that not only help lead to the identification of hearing difficulties, but can help alleviate symptoms of hearing loss and tinnitus. Additionally, there are apps with educational materials for all ages that focus on reducing risks for NIHL — and they are just fun! While mobile apps can increase awareness of hearing, tinnitus, and hearing loss prevention, they do not replace the need for evaluation and treatment by an audiologist or hearing healthcare provider.
Examples of mobile apps* for hearing health** include:


Sound Level Meters
1. dB Volume Meter: This free app allows iOS users to measure noise levels in any environment. With prior education about unsafe noise levels, the user can assess their environment for these hazards and use preventive measures to avoid the risk.  
Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/db-volume-meter/id592769907?mt=8
Developer: Amanda Gates
iTunes Rating: 4 ½ stars/5 reviews
Cost: Free

2. Sound Meter: This free app allows Android users to measure noise levels in any environment. With prior education about unsafe noise levels, the user can assess their environment for these hazards and use preventive measures to avoid the risk.
Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=kr.sira.sound&hl=en
Developer: Smart Tools Co.
Google Play Rating: 4 ½ stars/109,416 reviews
Cost: Free


Hearing Screeners/ Hearing Loss Simulators
1. Hearing-Check: This iOS- and Android-compatible app was created by Action on Hearing Loss, the official hearing foundation in the United Kingdom. This app tests the user’s hearing by scoring the entry of numbers on a keypad as they are spoken in the app.
Links: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hearing-check/id485312957?mt=8
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.uk.org.actionnhearingloss.mobilehearingcheck&hl=en
Developer: Action on Hearing Loss
iTunes Rating: 2 stars/5 reviews
Cost: Free
Google Play Rating: 3 stars/63 reviews
Cost: Free

2. Play It Down: This is an iOS-compatible, all-inclusive, and interactive app. It simulates hearing loss by changing the characteristics of the user’s music, conducts an ultra-high frequency tone-detection test, and has a sound level meter that indicates the “danger zone” for listening levels.
Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/play-it-down/id436207951?mt=8
Developer: Red Deluxe/playitdown.org
iTunes Rating: 3 stars/17 reviews
Cost: Free


Listening Assistance
1. i-Hear Free – Hearing Aid: This iOS app allows the user to hear the sounds around them amplified through the phone using standard headphones.
Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/i-hear-free-hearing-aid/id602608462?mt=8
Developer: Idan Sheetrit
iTunes Rating: 4 ½ stars/7 reviews
Cost: Free

2. EarMachine: “This work is funded by the National Institutes of Health … ,” states the description of this iOS app. It allows the user to listen to surrounding sounds or to music from their phone’s library. The app is easy to use, with the ability to adjust multiple processing parameters based on your own preferences or using the app’s recommendations.
Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/earmachine/id732177210?mt=8
Developer: Ear Machine LLC
iTunes Rating: 4 stars/12 reviews
Cost: Free

3. EarTrumpet: This app is available for use with iOS systems. Its description stresses that it is intended for entertainment purposes only. The app simulates a hearing test, which yields a report and generates a filter that can be used to amplify sounds and decrease background noise.
Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/eartrumpet/id385494796?mt=8
Developer: Praxis BioSciences, LLC
iTunes Rating: 4 ½ stars/7 reviews
Cost: $3.99

4. SoundFocus: This free iOS app plays music to match the user’s hearing loss as defined by in-app testing that can be completed with headphones or by using car stereo speakers. The hearing profile can be recalculated repeatedly, making it possible to optimize the sound for myriad environments. Music plays from the user’s personal library or from Spotify, which runs within the app.
Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/soundfocus/id670086460?mt=8
Developer: Symphonic Audio Technologies
iTunes Rating: 5 stars/114 reviews
Cost: Free


Tinnitus and Aural Rehabilitation
1. Relax Melodies: This free app is a sound generator for iOS and Android users. A sleep timer and alarm clock allow the user to fall asleep and wake up to mixes that (s)he has created. With 50 sounds to choose from, the user can create a variety of 10 sound mixes. Relax Melodies Premium is available for purchase, which among other additional features, offers more sounds to choose from and has the ability to run while other apps are being used.
Links: Relax Melodies: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/relax-melodies-sleep-zen-sounds/id314498713?mt=8
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ipnossoft.rma.free&hl=en
Developer: iLBSoft (iOS); Ipnos Software (Android)
iTunes Rating: 5 stars/4,523 reviews; 5 stars/615 reviews
Cost: Free; $2.99
Google Play Rating: 4.5 stars/58,512 reviews; 5 stars/8,133 reviews
Cost: Free; $2.99

2. Hear Coach: This free app is available for iOS and Android devices. It has a suite of listening games that allow the user to increase in difficulty and access new levels as performance improves.
Links: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hear-coach/id489515928?mt=8
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=starkey.hearCoachAndroid&hl=en
Developer: Starkey Laboratories
iTunes Rating: 4 stars/19 reviews
Cost: Free
Google Play Rating: 4.5 stars/10 reviews
Cost: Free

3. Coping with Hearing Loss: This is an iOS- and Android-compatible educational app. There are 15 chapters that cover how the ear works, diseases/disorders one might have and how they are diagnosed, and rehabilitation options. The description indicates that the $0.99 price is promotional only and that the regular price is $14.99.
Links: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/coping-with-hearing-loss/id402155259?mt=8
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.koolappz.EP77707350001&hl=en
Developer: AppWarrior (iOS); KoolAppz (Android)
iTunes Rating: Not yet rated
Cost: $0.99
Google Play Rating: 5 stars/1 review
Cost: $1.36


Anatomy
1. Ear Nose Throat Decide - Point of Care Patient Education for Healthcare Professionals: This iOS app allows the clinician to create digital handouts for patients using the patient’s radiological imaging or the company’s stock photos and videos. This is available by subscription, with a free 14-day trial.
Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ear-nose-throat-decide-point/id461526677?mt=8
Developer: Orca Health, Inc.
iTunes Rating: Not yet rated
Cost: Free 14-day subscription/Fee-based monthly or annual subscription

2. Ear ID: This iOS and Android app is designed for use by students, patients, and professionals. The app shows the anatomy of the outer, middle, and inner ear; identifies and describes the function of each structure; and has animations and video of the function of several structures within the ear. The user can further tailor the use of this app by drawing directly on the screens using the whiteboard feature. Also available are Middle Ear ID and Inner Ear ID apps, each for $4.99, and the Ear ID eBook. The eBook provides a comprehensive introduction to the structure of the human ear. Included in the Ear ID are 12 animations and 120 detail illustrations. Within the multimedia capabilities of this eBook is easy access to 99 glossary entries of terms and definitions, fully cross-referenced.
Links: Ear ID: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ear-id/id504379539?mt=8
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.bluetreepublishing.earID&hl=en
eBook: http://www.bluetreepublishing.com/Details.cfm?ProdID=444&category=0
Developer: Blue Tree Publishing, Inc.
iTunes Rating: 2 stars/13 reviews
Cost: $2.99 / $4.99 (Middle and Inner Ear ID)
Google Play Rating: Not yet rated
Cost: $2.99 / $4.99 (Middle and Inner Ear ID)

3. aVOR: This iOS-compatible app demonstrates the anatomy and function of the vestibular system. When the iPhone or iPad is moved, the app shows the user which semicircular canals are activated and the resulting eye movement in functional and dysfunctional systems.
Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/avor/id497245573?mt=8
Developer: Liberty IT
iTunes Rating: 5 stars/6 reviews
Cost: Free


Just for Fun
1. Ear Match: This is an educational app, compatible with iOS and Android tablets. The user can learn the parts of the ear through a match-and-memory game.
Links: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ear-match/id542575635?mt=8
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.earMatch&hl=en
Developer: Blue Tree Publishing
iTunes Rating: Not yet rated
Cost: $2.99
Google Play Rating: Not yet rated
Cost: $2.99

2. Ear Doctor and Ear Doctor 2: This app is iOS (Ear Doctor 2) and Android (Ear Doctor) compatible. It is a children’s game that allows the child to remove wax, test hearing, and use professional methods to help virtual patients with their problems.
Links: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ear-doctor-2-kids-games/id894926228?mt=8
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.earMatch&hl=en
Developer: Hugs N Hearts (iOS); Bluebear Technologies, Ltd. (Android)
iTunes Rating: Not yet rated
Cost: Free
Google Play Rating: 4 stars/6,520 reviews
Cost: Free

3. HearStrike: This iOS app utilizes the user’s auditory skills to aim for a target. The more central and loud the tone sounds, the closer the user is to the center of the target. Points are awarded based on accuracy of the shots.
Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hearstrike/id508349788?mt=8
Developer: MDV Ingegneria Elettronica Sas
iTunes Rating: Not yet rated
Cost: $0.99

4. Sound ID: This app is compatible with iOS or Android tablets. It is an interactive app that allows the user to guess which sounds belong where on a noise thermometer.
Links: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sound-id/id506227452?ls=1&mt=8
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.bluetreepublishing.soundID&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsImFpci5jb20uYmx1ZXRyZWVwdWJsaXNoaW5nLnNvdW5kSUQiXQ.
Developer: Blue Tree Publishing
iTunes Rating: Not yet rated
Cost: $2.99
Google Play Rating: 4 stars/6,520 reviews
Cost: $2.99

5. iEducate Drag Drop (Inner Ear, Labyrinth, and Middle Ear) These are each iOS and Android tablet compatible, allowing the users to build the structures of the ear from a bank of images.
Links: Inner Ear: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/inner-ear-drag-drop-structure/id500845307?mt=8
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.bluetreepublishing.innEarID&hl=en
Developer: Blue Tree Publishing
iTunes Rating: Not yet rated
Google Play Rating: Not yet rated
Cost: $2.99


Hear to Live

The above are just a few of the examples of mobile apps for hearing health. We live in a noisy world and learning more about your hearing through these mobile apps can help you learn about hearing and hazardous noise levels. You can also discover ways to protect your hearing so that you can enjoy lifelong hearing.

 *Availability, ratings, and cost are current as of November 7, 2014.


**The appearance of these hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by HCE, the United States Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external Web site, or the information, products, or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities, such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations or the privacy and user policies of these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of the HCE Web site.


National Hearing Conservation Association
12011 Tejon Street, Suite 700
Westminster, CO 80234
Phone: 303-224-9022
Fax: 303-458-0002
nhcaoffice@hearingconservation.org