After winning the top smartphone app prize at our MobileBeat 2012 Innovation Competition in July, The Good Ear has finally managed to bring its hearing loss treatment app to the iPhone.
A subsidiary of Korean hearing technology company Earlogic, The Good Ear has developed technology that can analyze and treat hearing loss. Now, after an extended submission process with Apple, the company has launched its “Better Hearing” app for iOS.
Even though we only saw an early build of the Better Hearing app at MobileBeat, the judges were impressed by The Good Ear’s lofty ambitions, even if the effectiveness of its technology was tough to convey in a short on-stage demo. And considering that a recent Johns Hopkins study found one in five Americans are experiencing hearing loss in some form, if the app does what it says, it could also provide a world of good.
The Better Hearing app is free to download to test your hearing, but to receive treatment you’ll have to pay a one-time $4.99 fee. It uses “Threshold Sound Conditioning” (TSC) therapy to target the sound frequencies where your hearing is the weakest, which the company claims can improve your hearing after 30-minute daily treatments over 14 days.
It may sound like quack science, but the Good Ear points to a number of studies from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, as well as the Chung-Ang University Hospital and Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, that show TSC can be effective. Another study is currently in the works by Stanford University and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
The app itself is easy to use: Once launched, it steps you through a series of hearing tests across a variety of frequency ranges. The app suggests you use your stock iPhone headphones for the testing, likely for calibration reasons, so be sure you’re not using. The testing process takes only a few minutes to complete, after which you’re presented with a screen showing your results, and the option to purchase the therapy option for $4.99. (I performed the worst on the ultra-high 12,000 Hz frequency, though most adults likely will. I was also surprised to learn that hearing in my left ear was slightly worse than in my right.)
I can’t tell you if the Better Hearing app will really improve your hearing, but at this point the notion of TSC therapy seems legitimate. The company is also testing a TSC-based hearing aid, which should technically be more useful towards fixing hearing issues than typical hearing aids.