Denmark based hearing aid manufacturer, Widex, introduced the WIDEX EVOKE hearing aids in April, 2018. The Widex Evoke hearing aids are the first to give users the ability to employ real-time machine learning. Machine learning provides solutions to the tricky hearing problems that users face in their daily lives.
“We launched WIDEX EVOKE with SoundSense technology to put users back in control of the most difficult hearing situations,” says Jens Brehm Nielsen, Data Science & Machine Learning Architect at Widex. “And we can see that EVOKE users have taken the opportunity to do that and in the process are helping us understand more about them. That information will help Widex to make the EVOKE and future hearing aids even better.”
SoundSense Learn is an Artificial Intelligence System (AI). AI refers to systems that solve tasks that humans are inherently good at – such as driving a car, doing the dishes, etc. The SoundSense Learn Artificial Intelligence System expands into entirely new applications by helping wearers adjust their own hearing aids “in the moment”, something no electronic device can replicate to the same degree or accuracy.
The downloadable SoundSense Learn smartphone app is connected to the Widex EVOKE hearing aids via Bluetooth and uses machine learning to guide users in optimizing their hearing aid sound settings to their exact needs. The app gathers a variety of anonymous agregate data, such as; how often they turn the volume up or down, which sound presets they use in specific environments and how many custom settings they create – including those made with SoundSense Learn.
What’s in a tag?
Tagging of custom hearing aid settings has proved to be one of the most interesting pieces of data generated by EVOKE.
“We found that many people have created a setting and tagged it with, for instance, ‘Work’ which suggests that it is something that our end-users need and want. And from SoundSense Learn we already have an idea of how they like the settings.”
Most modern hearing aids give users the ability to customise their sound settings by adjusting frequency bands, to boost or cut bass tones, middle or high frequency tones. Adjusting frequencies works well in many situations once the initial settings have been set by a skilled hearing care professional. However, some situations are so complex that hitting the right combination of adjustments can be difficult.
“Widex hearing aids are well-known for the quality of their sound,” says Jens. “But SoundSense Learn has added an extra layer of quality sound on top of that by using a machine learning algorithm together with reinforcement learning – the two key ingredients in our state-of-the art AI algorithm – that enables the algorithm to learn in the moment.”
“The algorithm learns an optimal setting every time a user finds the sound to be a little below expectations in a given sound environment. It learns these settings by simply asking the user to compare two settings that are carefully picked by the algorithm. This allows it to learn an optimal setting in a new environment very fast.”
By collating and analyzing the agregate anonymous data, the WIDEX EVOKE will continue to become even smarter as time passes.