I could only make out about half of what he was saying. Up until then my hearing aids had done a fine job. I was able to hear the previous speakers in the lecture hall with little or no problem. But now I was frustrated.
Fortunately I had a solution in my pocket. An app called Ava. I fired it up on my iPhone and the speaker’s words began scrolling across the screen. It’s kind of like live captioning.
Very cool and very useful.
Ava debuted in November 2016, the creation of founders Thibault Duchemin, Pieter Doevendans and Skinner Cheng.
It’s not perfect, and it doesn’t get every word right every time. In my experience it’s about 96 or 97 percent accurate if you’re speaking one on one with someone in a quiet room. That tails off if you are in noisier environments. No surprise there.
That’s why Ava is also designed connect a group of people around a dinner table, for example, as long as each of them has the app on their phones.
One issue confronting the developers, according to Pieter Doevendans, is that many potential users are older folks who are not always tech savvy.
“Our ultimate goal is to make it easy and smooth to use”, he says, “As simple as just pulling your phone out of your pocket to provide a convenient 24/7 experience.”
Also in the future, they are looking at developing AR capabilities. One day you may be able to put on a pair of special glasses that puts the captions right before your eyes.
But make no mistake, Ava is well worth getting right now.
You can download either IOS or Android versions right here on their download page.
“He said he would rather have sex than have his hearing.”
Could Viagra cause hearing loss?
The late Hugh Hefner thought so according to three of the women in his life. His widow Chrystal Harris told Howard Stern back in 2011 that, “He tries not to take Viagra any more because it makes him lose his hearing.”
In another interview that same year Hefner’s former twin lovers Karissa and Kristina Shannon made a similar claim.
Karissa told The Sun “He said he would rather have sex than have his hearing. He has hearing aids now and even then he can only hear out of one ear.”
“You have to lean down and talk into his good ear for him to understand you. We could sit right next to him and he wouldn’t have a clue what we said.”
Was Viagra to Blame?
There is some tenuous evidence that the class of drugs known as PDE-5 inhibitors such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra may induce sensorineural hearing loss. A 2007 study found that a few men reported suffering from sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) after taking PDE-5 inhibitors.
It’s important to note that there has been no proven causal link, and that SSHL is extremely rare. But it was enough for the FDA to require that a warning be included on the labels of PDE-5 inhibitors.
As for Hefner’s hearing loss, well, he was in his nineties after all.
The Drugs You Should Worry About
There are roughly 200 drugs that have been shown to cause hearing loss, including some that may already be in your medicine cabinet.
They are known as ototoxics, oto meaning ear and toxic, of course, means poison. They can result in temporary or permanent damage. If you are already suffering from hearing loss you should be aware that these drugs may cause you to lose more.
Having trouble hearing dialogue in movies theatres?
Try this great option.
I went to see “Bridget Jones’s Baby” the other day (don’t ask) and it was a very frustrating experience. Although Renée Zellweger was as adorable as ever, I could only make out less than half of what she said.
Her faux English accent didn’t help, and a soundtrack layered with music buried a lot of the dialogue.
But the rest of the audience seemed to be laughing on cue so the issue was obviously my hearing loss. Even with the best hearing aids many of us struggle to hear dialogue in movie theatres. There’s no point in complaining, “the actors are mumbling” or “the soundtrack mix is so muddy”. Face it. It’s your hearing.
But then I discovered what I can only call the cinema world’s best kept secret. It’s called the CaptiView system and it offers discreet, easy to read captions (or subtitles if you prefer) right there in any seat in the house. Continue reading “Now Playing: “Closed Captions””
My mother suffers from severe hearing loss. Hearing aids don’t help her much now. But, as he explains in this guest post, my father has found a simple device that helps them communicate.
By Charles Cook
My wife’s hearing has deteriorated to the point where even the most sophisticated modern hearing aid fails to provide relief. I’ve always been told that my voice, which won oratory medals at college, is very clear and strong. But even so, now that we’re both in our eighties, conversation with her has become almost impossible. Every other word is a challenge.
“What did he say?” “The actors are mumbling.” Listening to TV can be challenging but there are options.
When you watch TV are your windows rattling? Do pictures on the wall vibrate? Are neighbours pounding on the walls?
For anyone with hearing loss, watching TV can be frustrating, and trying to decipher dialogue can sometimes be impossible. But instead of cranking up the volume to Metallica levels there are a few things you can try:
Hearing aids are expensive. But that’s for another post. There is government financial assistance available for Canadians. The amount and your eligibility depends on where you live.
It’s not easy to come up with a definitive cross-country guide since many of the rules and regulations are confusing to say the least. (Any clarifications or updates are welcome) So consider this a rough guide:
Background noise, music and hard walls that turn the restaurant into a noisy, echo chamber. It all makes conversations with your dinner companions difficult or impossible.
In part, that’s because even the best hearing aids have trouble separating the voices of your companions from the sounds of other conversations around you. All that hubbub submerges the voices you want to hear.
Another major factor is the acoustic design (or lack thereof) of most restaurants and bars. Many owners prefer a loud establishment. They crank the music up, use reflecting surfaces such as concrete walls or mirrors that amplify the general noise. They want to create a lively, busy ambience.
So a couple of tips for anyone looking for a little peace and quiet on a night out: