At Audientes, our mission is to make high-quality and affordable hearing aids available to the millions of people in the world who suffer from disabling hearing loss. Hearing loss, however, is often a condition that goes hand-in-hand with tinnitus. Which is why Audientes is teaming up with The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) as part of our development of an application to help address tinnitus.
Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears that affects an estimated 15-20% of the world’s population.
At least 60% of people with hearing loss also suffer from tinnitus, which is often related to age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder. People with tinnitus hear phantom sounds, in one or both ears, when no external sounds are present, such as ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring, clicking and humming. It may be present all the time or come and go. While there is no definitive cure for tinnitus, masking these noises is a common treatment which helps distract the brain, therefore making the noises seem less obvious.
The misery of tinnitus
Audientes founder and CTO, Hossein Jelved believes that treating hearing loss and easing the burden of tinnitus are intrinsically related.
“There are so many people with hearing loss who also have to deal with the misery of tinnitus. We cannot address one without considering the other,” says Jelved. “That’s why it has always been a goal for Audientes to work towards solutions that not only address hearing loss but can also ease tinnitus, which als affects so many of our customers.”
So, when the Technical University of Denmark held its annual “App Wish Day” (App-ønskedag) in September this year, it presented Audientes with the opportunity to accelerate development on an Audientes tinnitus application. Jelved was delighted to present the idea to over 100 engineering students currently enrolled in the Engineering Diploma program. During the open day, companies pitch their ideas to students in a speed-dating forum, who then select the app they would most like to work on developing. It’s a collaborative project involving both the company and the students, the goal of which is not just app development, but also to provide students with the opportunity to experience working on a real-life project in a commercial setting
A global company with a local responsibility
“We are a global company with a responsibility to the global community of people with disabling hearing loss. But I also believe we are a local company with a responsibility to our community here in Denmark. We need to think about the future and encourage education within the medtech industry in order to ensure that we have qualified resources in the future. It’s our duty and that’s what I mean by having local responsibility,” says Jelved.
The interest among the students in working on the Audientes app was high. The three study groups selected are now working on concepting and developing the new app which has the potential to steer the design, architecture and outcome of the finished application, will be available for free on Google Play and the Apple App Store when complete. The app will be a standalone solution that will not require the Audientes hearing aid to function.
Ease the suffering of tinnitus
“Our goal is that this project will contribute to an end product that is user-friendly, intuitive and impactful, and that will help ease the suffering of the millions of people around the world with tinnitus. Young and old alike because tinnitus doesn’t discriminate,” says Jelved. “We must not forget, however, that this is not a treatment or a cure but rather something that will ease the symptoms of tinnitus. When a cure is discovered – that will be another project for Audientes.”
This is not the first time Audientes has collaborated with The Technical University of Denmark. Audientes also participated in App Wish Day in 2019, the results of which had an impact on the current UI design and architecture direction for the accompanying app to our hearing aid. And it’s a collaboration that has benefitted both Audientes and the university. Jacob Nordfalk, DTU Diplom Lecturer believes it provides students with an opportunity to learn on a practical, academic and social level.
Pitch, collaborate, plan and work
“You can literally see the light go on in their eyes when presented with something that they find both interesting and inspirational. That’s our goal with a project like this; to create an inspirational environment that will also help prepare them for their working lives. We’re teaching them so much more than ‘just’ programming. It’s also a maturing process where they learn to pitch, collaborate, plan and work in what is – essentially – unknown territory,” says Nordfalk.
As for the end result? Both the university, students and Audientes alike hope to gain input, inspiration and new thoughts for the tinnitus app project.
“Ideally, I hope that Audientes achieves a result that they can actually integrate with their product. And I hope that I students gain valuable experience and independence and learn a lot on both an academic and human level,” says Nordfalk.
The Audientes tinnitus app is due to be launched in late 2021. For updates, follow us on social media and here on our website.