Imagine a world where your phone could be your second pair of ears and notify you of the sounds and dangers in your environment. Well, you don’t need to imagine, because this small, yet significant new feature has been unveiled with Apple’s iOS 14 at their annual WWDC keynote on June 23rd.

The sound recognition feature works by listening out for 14 different sounds in your environment such as; a baby crying, dogs barking, doorbell, smoke alarm, running water, a knock at the door or a car horn to name a few, and then sends a notification to your phone.

Dr. Jennifer La Borde Au.D. CCC-A, at The Hearing Center MCC, commented:
“As a hard-of-hearing person myself, I have left the water running in the sink and become distracted, only to return later to a very full sink nearly ready to overflow!!!! To think that I can just program the sound of running water into my phone and it will let me know when it hears water running so I don’t need to worry, is just incredible. This is a VERY exciting feature for hard-of-hearing and deaf individuals. Having notifications of environmental sounds help to foster a greater connection to our environments.”

Tech giants such as Amazon and Google have recently introduced AI-based sound recognition for personal safety measures, including setting Amazon Echo speakers to detect the sound of alarms and broken glasses, or Google’s Pixel phones to detect a car crash and call emergency services.

For now, Apple is discouraging anyone from depending on the sound recognition feature for staying safe, but it’s a great first step for everyday accessibility purposes and a handy tool as a second pair of ears.

Great job, Apple, on continuing to prioritize inclusivity and accessibility. We at The Hearing Center are excited about the ever-improving technologies out there and look forward to seeing these features in action.

If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment, contact us! We are here to help.

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Jennifer LaBorde Au.D., CCC-A

Dr. Jennifer LaBorde is an audiologist who has been in practice since 1999. She has a Masters in Communication Disorders from University of South Alabama, Bachelor’s of Science in Communication Disorders from the University of Mississippi, a Doctorate in Audiology from the University of Florida and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology.
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