Dummies For Hearing Aids

If you’re a size 14 in the shoulders, a size 16 in the waist and a size 18 in the hips, the only way to get a garment that fits properly is to custom make it to your own exquisite proportions. If you have my dressmaking skills and levels of patience, that usually involves lots of swearing and having to go out and buy a second lot of fabric to replace the first lot that you ruined because the pattern turns out to be as inaccurately sized as any item of clothing that you’d buy off the peg.

Whilst trawling the internet to see if I could find a cheap tailor’s dummy proportioned suitably like the back end of a bus to aid my dress fitting efforts the other day, I stumbled across the Hearing Dummy instead. An image of a big cloth ear on a stand sprang to mind, but the real Hearing Dummy is potentially far more elegant and useful than that. For those of us who don’t hear like the default Autofit setting on the hearing aid fitting software tells us we should, it could be the answer to our prayers if it ever reaches the NHS.

The Hearing Dummy is a piece of software currently under development by Professor Ray Meddis and his team at the University of Essex. It uses a series of specially developed tests to build a computer model of an individual’s hearing, which can be used as a bespoke profile for fitting hearing aids. To Prof Meddis, the pure tone audiogram is only part of the story, and the personalised computer model is used for the initial programming of the aid, in the same way that a tailor’s dummy is used to fit a bespoke garment. That’s about as technical as I get, but you can read about it here.

In theory, this means that any further adjustments to the initial programming should be small, thus reducing the number of people bursting into tears in hospital corridors after a bad hearing aid fitting. This can only be a good thing.

Better still, if Prof Meddis pulls this one off, I shan’t need to build my own hearing aid after all. Phew.

2 Responses to “Dummies For Hearing Aids”

  1. 1 Kenny August 5, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Four years have passed. has anything happened? the link doesn’t seem to work anymore….

    • 2 moiradancer August 13, 2015 at 11:18 am

      Hi Kenny, sorry about the delay in replying, just back from my hols. I haven’t heard anything since Nick Clark from the research team posted a comment on this post back in August 2013. It links to a new app he was working on at the time, http://www.aud1.com

      According to the original Hearing Dummy blurb back in June 2011, the research project had 3.5 years of funding so should be complete by now. I can’t find any recent writeups, but I’m being a guinea pig at the Hearing Research Institute next week, so I’ll ask if they know anything about it and post something if they do. Suffice to say I wish I’d had the software at my latest hearing aid fitting this morning, I’m back to square one with another set of gently hissing Danalogics…

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