OtoSense App Shows Deaf People Phone Alerts

Losing your sense of hearing can leave one with a sense of helplessness. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, more than 48 million Americans have reported a hearing loss. Hearing aids and assistive devices do exist, but they are limited by battery and settings. 

A new app developer is trying to fix that. Massachusetts-based software developer Otosense, Inc. has developed the Otosense mobile app to help the deaf and hard of hearing to identify and distinguish the sources of various sounds. This app will convert the smartphone into an assistive alerting device for the deaf and hard of hearing. Otosense is only available on the Google Play Store for $0.99.

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The Otosense app has a built-in library of standard fire and smoke alarm sounds. Whenever Otosense detects one of its collected sounds, it will alert the user through vibration, flashing lights or third party notifications, including SMS, Pebble Watch and Phillips HUE Lights. If a sound isn't included in the library, users can add it by recording and storing the sound within the library. As sounds are added, the libraries will sync with the cloud and add those sounds to the other user's libraries. This crowdsourcing of sorts helps keep the app up-to-date.

The app has already received positive feedback from a number of voices in the hard-of-hearing community. Joyce Edmiston of XpressiveHandz commented, I can’t believe someone hasn’t thought of this before. I can’t wear my hearing aids every day and without them, I’m unable to hear the doorbell, a microwave beeping or a teakettle whistling. It’s fantastic that with this new app I will finally know the source of sounds around me and can react as needed.”

While voice and noise recognition apps are not new, Otosense's focus on alerting the deaf population is promising. If this app holds up to all the hype, it will change/save lives.

Chris Hutton
Christopher Hutton has written on issues of technology, religion and culture for a variety of sites, including VICE, RNS and Tom's Guide. You can find his website at liter8.net