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Apple tries to save my hearing after spending years ruining it

The end result of all this is that I am now the guy in most conversations who says "huh?" or "come back", because I have trouble distinguishing the outlines of a conversation even in relatively calm conditions. Statistics indicate that I am barely the only one: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12.5% ​​of children aged 12 to 19 and 17% of adults aged 20 to 69 are suffering from the disease. some degree of hearing loss due to noise.

Although sudden and shocking noise noises may be enough to permanently change a person's hearing, this is not always the case. Often, deterioration occurs over time and can be mitigated (if not completely avoided) with a good dose of sensitization. With new versions of its watch and smartphone software, Apple is trying to give this to its users.

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It's a little weird to think of something that you wear on your wrist as a tool to help your ears, but that's exactly what's happening in watchOS 6. As explained by the Dr. Sumbul Desai, vice president of health at Apple this month, during the WWDC speech, the Apple Watch will have the opportunity to gauge the volume of sounds around you and warn you when your environment becomes dangerously strong. This happens more often than you think: The World Health Organization regards noise as an "underestimated threat" and is particularly problematic in cities like New York. A 2012 study by the New York Department of Health suggests that the average volume of some outdoor sites "exceeds established federal and international public health protection guidelines."

People who care about privacy can console themselves knowing that your watch will not listen all the time. Apple says that if you choose to use this feature, the Watch will record snippets of its one second every few seconds to check the volume of the ambient sound.

My first tour with a feature in a private demo was surprisingly enlightening. Most conversations at normal volume are around 60dB and sounds above 85dB may degrade your hearing after prolonged exposure. To test things, I start talking very loud – it was uncomfortable, but not too far from the way I talk to particularly noisy bars. Almost immediately, a warning appeared on the test device worn by a spokesperson; I had exceeded 80 dB without making any special efforts.

My first thought: God, I'm really uncomfortable sometimes. My second thought was a little more constructive: if it's so strong I If I had to have a conversation with another person at our local karaoke bar, I might have to consider spending less time there. It remains to be seen if I really succeed in this idea (I have not done so yet), but the fact that I even started to rethink my habits momentarily testifies to the type of help that this watchOS function proactive could provide.

Not everyone has an Apple Watch, however, and fewer still wear them all over. That's why it's so important that Apple puts the hearing aid tools available to users directly on the iPhone: after all, about 900 million iPhone's are used in the world .

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In fairness to Apple, some of these tools already exist. IPhone users, for example, have been able to limit the maximum volume of their devices for years. That said, the volume control feature is only really useful for people who are already concerned about their hearing health. it does little for those at risk but does not realize it (or make fun of it).

The iOS volume indicator will also visually warn you when you increase your music beyond a certain threshold, although it would not surprise me if so many who read this have never seen this. As far as I know, the warning indicator is only available on iPhones sold in the European Union as a result of regulations specific to this economic bloc.

Some users find this boring, but it forces them to think (even momentarily) of the power of their sound. Fortunately, this feature is much more prevalent on Android devices, which often warn users when they turn up the volume too high while the headphones are connected. That said, I am told that even though the volume warning is built into Android open source code, this feature is usually left to smartphone designers.

In any case, Apple pays more attention to your hearing in iOS 13. Everything happens in the new Health app: in addition to providing articles on how to nurture your audition and show you the ambient volume levels of your Apple Watch, the software also monitors the sound level of your sound when listening with AirPods and other MFi certified headsets.

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