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Apple’s new noise monitor

Apple has long been investing in their tablets and phones to raise awareness of fitness. However, since the launch of their smartwatch, healthcare apps have become increasingly important and their latest app now includes hearing health to help protect hearing in noisy environments. Jesal Vishnuram, Technology Manager, tells us more.

Noise has steadily become increasingly more common, but this has gone by almost unnoticed by most people. From noisy streets to cafes and restaurants as well as music concerts and personal audio devices, we are exposing ourselves to more and more dangerous levels of noise in our recreational activities. So what does this mean for our hearing?

What level of noise is dangerous?

A normal conversation is around 60dB. Anything above 85dB is considered dangerous and could cause damage to your hearing. A diesel engine on a truck is around 85dB and exposure to this level of noise during 1 working day (8 hours) can damage your hearing. As noise level increases, the exposure time before it damages your hearing decreases.

Find out more about what level of noise is dangerous

How the app works

Noise uses the microphone on the Apple watch to monitor sound levels around you. You can either open the app to check the level of noise around you or set an alert so that if you are at any point in a dangerously loud environment (anywhere above 90dB), a notification will appear to inform you of the noise exposure.

The Noise app will be available with the launch of the Apple WatchOS 6 due to come out this autumn.

How effective it is

Apps like this can raise awareness of noise exposure and damage to your hearing. However, with so many alerts and notifications from other apps popping up on their smart watch, people may end up ignoring the alerts.

For example, the volume limiter on smartphones was designed to raise awareness of dangerous listening levels through the phone – however, many people deactivated it or ignored it after the first few warnings. This could also end up being the case for the Noise app.

The biggest flaw with the app is that there is no advice given on the length of exposure time that is safe before you risk damaging your hearing, or what you can do to help protect your hearing in that environment.

Devices that can help protect your hearing

There are several different types of noise protection. Some are designed specifically for working in noise, such as industries using heavy machinery, and others are available for recreational activities. It is important to get the right noise protection for specific environments to ensure your hearing is protected, and that you can still communicate effectively and keep safe by hearing important alerts.

Find out more about hearing protection

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