NAL: Applying AI in Hearing Healthcare.

Hearing healthcare stands at the threshold of significant change, driven by rapidly evolving capabilities of Artificial Intelligence.

In traditional models of hearing healthcare, a standardised approach is commonly employed. Generic hearing aids or cochlear implants are prescribed without considering individual differences. This one-size-fits-all method often leads to less-than-ideal results, as the interventions may not adequately address the unique auditory requirements and lifestyle preferences of the user.

In its recently published 2023 report, National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL) provided a comprehensive overview of its Artificial Intelligence (AI) initiatives to personalise, diagnose and empower hearing healthcare professionals.

Tailoring hearing solutions

To meet the unique needs of each user, NAL researchers leveraged large comprehensive datasets to develop a generative AI tool that provides personalised hearing goals for the individual listening needs and lifestyle. The “generative” aspect refers to the AI’s ability to produce novel, original content, rather than just analysing or categorising existing information.

To better understand the hearing experiences of individuals throughout their day, the NAL Ecological Momentary Assessment system was developed and widely used by researchers to capture real-world listening experiences and acoustic information about individuals’ listening environments. This tool can provide insights into where hearing aid and cochlear implant users are having the greatest hearing difficulties.

Expanding Access to Hearing Loss Screening and Assessments

NAL is developing an AI-powered smart-phone app for screening children aged two to four for hearing loss by analysing the acoustic features of speech. This will provide parents with a quick and convenient way to screen their child’s hearing at home.

For older children, NAL researchers are developing an AI tool to monitor and assess speech clarity, aiding ongoing monitoring of speech development without requiring strenuous and limited specialised services.

For adult assessments, NAL has developed a language-agnostic speech test using audio-visual testing and sophisticated machine learning models for precise and rapid diagnosis of hearing ability.

Improving hearing care delivery

NAL’s AI-powered platform combines rich data provides detailed, granular insights into behaviour and clinical insights to create diverse personas of people with hearing loss that users can converse with to understand their varied challenges. This empowers clinicians, product developers, and non-clinical healthcare professionals to gain deeper insights into the needs, attitudes and beliefs of people with hearing loss.

As AI continues to evolve and mature, it holds immense promise for improving accessibility, efficacy, and inclusivity in hearing healthcare, ultimately enabling individuals with hearing loss to lead fuller, more connected lives.

National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL) has released its Annual Impact report 2023. This year’s featured projects include perceived mild to moderate hearing loss, next generation goal setting tool, cochlear implant processor upgrade evaluation, and a validation of advanced hearing aid technology.

Contact NAL for more information or collaboration opportunities.