Aumeo has a clear and unique goal – to make sure each listener’s unique hearing is accurately measured and considered to achieve the fullest audio experience. We call it “Tailored Audio”.
The quality of any tailoring boils down to 2 essential parts: accurate measurements and expert fitting. For this post I’d like to focus on Aumeo’s hearing measurement technology and the story of how we achieved 97% accuracy proven in our clinical trial and peer reviewed scientific medical publication.
Our core value was placed on the most accurate hearing assessment possible. With this aim, co-founder Prof. Andrew van Hasselt and our team of hearing experts set out to design the best solution.
There are a number of established hearing test methods in the field of audiology. From medical and field experience we looked beyond a number of interesting methods that are ultimately unsuitable for our use. For example, Otoacoustic Emission Test (OAE) can check the user’s cochlear (inner ear) status without manual interactions, but it’s largely only good for detecting the presence of hearing in uncooperative subjects (e.g. babies who cannot provide feedback, or to prevent fraudulent deafness insurance claims), but falls short when it comes to hearing health accuracy. Speech-in-Noise tests are language specific and cannot serve our global audience. Lastly, we decided against using short musical snippets because even a single piano note has lots of harmonics, meaning we are only measuring the ability to hear across multiple frequencies. It’s like measuring the feet of 5 different people to average into a single sized shoe.
In the end we settled on Pure-Tone Audiometry. PTA is by far the most common and well-established method of hearing measurement, and is the predominant method used when fine-tuning hearing assistive devices.
Once we decided on PTA, the team worked hard on distilling their years of clinical experience into a simple-to-use yet highly accurate app. One key design decision was to incorporate as many of the industry standards recommended by the British Society of Audiology (2004) as possible. This not only gave our app a strong foundational reference, but also allowed for continuous clinical verifications down the road.
Our very first clinical trial was conducted to find out how accurate our hearing assessment technology was compared with a professional hearing test. The trial was conducted at the Audiology Clinic of the Price of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong. We invited 100 people to first take a standard hearing test to establish their official audiogram, or hearing profile. We then ran them through our hearing assessment app using an iPhone with the standard Apple earbuds in a quiet room. The results stood up and showed that our technology is 97% accurate when compared with a standard, professionally administered hearing test.
It took more than 2 years to design, develop and finally verify our hearing measurement technology. The effort gave us rock a solid foundation and the confidence to move forward. Only then were we assured that our users would enjoy the optimal benefit from our medical expertise in audiology and hearing health, together with our engineering expertise in audio equalization and amplification, tailored to their individual needs.