Personal Science Week - 3 Nov 2022
Test your hearing
This is your weekly summary, published each Thursday, of ideas and techniques that we’ve found helpful for Personal Science. We think science is something that everyone should do, rather than leave it all to the professionals.
At home hearing test
Now that it’s legal to buy hearing aids without an expensive visit to a credentialed professional, I hope we’ll see more apps like Soundly, a simple 5-minute hearing test you can do yourself. While wearing headphones in a quiet room, just adjust the sliders to the lowest setting that lets you hear the tones.
Once you’ve tested each ear, a simple chart shows your hearing levels at various frequencies and what that means for your hearing ability. The site then offers hearing devices, ranging in price from about $700 to $5000.
I know nothing about the company or its tests, so I won’t vouch for the test or its products, but I’m hopeful that we’ll see many more products like this. As always, please leave a comment if you know more.
How old is your hearing?
Another audio test lets you compare your hearing abilities against people of all ages. “How old is your hearing?” is a site hosted by a UK-based educational website that generates a tone that increases steadily in pitch. Click the button when the frequency is too high for you to hear anymore. Since people naturally lose the ability to hear higher tones as we get older, it uses your upper hearing limit to guess your age.
I found it uncannily accurate when I tested it on myself, some teenagers, and several elderly people.
Hearing assistance on iPhone
Smartphones and the ubiquitous earphones, headphones, and earbuds that accompany them bring assistive hearing features that are useful to everyone, especially in noisy environments.
Check your iPhone for “Live Captions” (under Settings) for a feature that will transcribe conversations in real time. If you use Airpods, you can set your phone to provide audio from both the headset and the phone microphone. I sometimes find this helpful at noisy restaurants: I place my phone closer to the person I’m speaking with. This double audio input is often better than asking the person to shout louder.
About Personal Science
“Trust the experts” is good advice if you already know which experts are right. But as everyone experiencing a chronic medical condition knows, credentials count for little when searching for answers. Five experts will give six different suggestions and then what?
Personal Scientists see this uncomfortable truth everywhere and conclude that the best path is healthy skepticism coupled with an open mind. Follow the principles of science — methodical data collecting, rigorous scrutiny of all assumptions, and wherever possible apply your own tests. Join us weekly as we summarize some hints in that direction.