ChatableApps launches AI-powered assistive hearing app

27 May 2020183 Views

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Backed by Mark Cuban, the start-up has created an app that aims to use AI to make it easier for people with hearing loss to listen to conversations.

London-based ChatableApps has launched an AI-powered app that aims to help users hear conversations through their smartphones.

Backed by US entrepreneur and Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban, the start-up aims to commercialise the work of auditory neural signal processing researcher and co-founder Dr Andrew Simpson. Over the course of his career, Simpson has published more than 45 academic papers on the topics of artificial intelligence and hearing.

Simpson co-founded the company with CEO Giles Tongue, and with Brendan O’Driscoll, Aidan Sliney and George Boyle, who were part of the Irish team behind Spotify-acquired music discovery app Soundwave.

ChatableApps has developed what it calls a “universal hearing aid” that comes in the form of a mobile app. The app was created using neuroscience-led AI to assist people experiencing hearing loss in hearing one-to-one conversations more clearly using a smartphone and a standard pair of earbuds.

How it works

ChatableApps said that unlike traditional hearing aids, its app uses “end-to-end neural speech synthesis”. This process involves the AI listening to the sound mixture of a conversation and repeating the voice-only element in real time.

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It has created a proprietary AI called Voximity that identifies the sounds we want to hear and creates a new, identical voice that sounds the same as the original without any other background sounds.

Once users have downloaded the app, which is available on iOS and Android, they can plug in earphones and move two sliders up or down to find their desired balance of sound. There’s a volume boost slider that enables clear and loud voice, while the background noise slider removes background noise.

Simpson said that it has been “a long road” to build this app. “Putting an auditory cortex on a smartphone has been a dream for a long time,” he added.

Commenting on his investment, Cuban said: “Chatable is using AI to address growing healthcare inequality by providing an affordable hearing aid app that helps with conversation.”

ChatableApps CEO Tongue added: “Following successful preclinical trials, we have decided to launch immediately due to the urgent demand from audiologists to help people struggling because of coronavirus. With many unable to lipread due to face masks or unable to visit a hearing clinic in an emergency, our app provides a lifeline.”

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com