App Enhances Speech, Reduces Background Noise Using AI

Singular Hearing’s New App at CES 2020

David Copithorne

Content Director

05 January 2020

Visitors to CES 2020 this week will be able to see—and hear—how artificial intelligence (AI) can alleviate the infamous “cocktail party” problem that afflicts millions of people with hearing loss. Singular Hearing’s HeardThat app turns your iPhone or Android smartphone into a hearing assistant with software that identifies and enhances a speaker’s voice while effectively eliminating background noise.

Introduction to HeardThat

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Delivering a clearer signal to your earbuds

HeardThat utilizes powerful machine-learning software to separate speech from noise. It analyzes the noisy environment, identifies the voice you want to understand, dampens the extraneous noise, and delivers a clear signal for your conversation partner’s voice.

You can use the app with your Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids or with any standard wired or wireless earbuds or smartphone headset. Now maybe you will finally be able to hear your conversation partner in noisy environments — even cocktail parties.

For situations where a hearing aid falls short

The HeardThat app is designed to step in where hearing aids — even those with very sophisticated sound processing capabilities — still fall short.

Often the first step in helping people with a hearing problem is a hearing aid. However, the weakness of even the most sophisticated hearing aids is the challenge of separating speech from background noise….It can be frustrating enough that a person with hearing loss may even avoid a social outing or public place.

Bruce Sharpe, Founder and CEO Singular Hearing

Manufacturers of premium hearing aids have made great strides in recent years helping people understand speech in noise. The tiny chipsets in the hearing aids have gotten so powerful that they can sample sound from your environment, distinguish between a voice you want to hear and noise that you don’t, and respond in real time with program adjustments that help you better understand speech. But you can only jam so much signal processing software into a hearing aid chipset that’s smaller than a dime.

Smartphone as an AI engine

An iPhone or Android phone, on the other hand, has an order of magnitude more room on its circuit boards than a hearing aid. The HeardThat smartphone software tunes out background noise even more effectively than hearing aids, allowing you to understand your conversation partner even in extremely noisy environments.

“Machine learning algorithms require too much processing power to run on hearing aids or other small devices,” Sharpe said. “By leveraging the smartphone, our HeardThat App is freed from hardware constraints and so can do much more. And because it is an agile and flexible software solution, HeardThat can be quickly and continually improved upon.”

Update: Demo now available and beta testers needed!

To hear the demo, fast forward to about 5 minutes. You’ll hear a very effective demo of the app reducing background noise:

HeardThat is currently recruiting beta testers (currently Android only). To be considered, please fill in this form.