A Fitbit for your ears

How one professor at the University of Pretoria is using technology to fight hearing loss.

20 September 2021

Hearing loss is often referred to as an invisible epidemic or disability simply because people don’t realise they’re at risk. It goes unnoticed or ignored because “people usually don’t understand or value their hearing to the extent that they should,” says De Wet Swanepoel, a professor of audiology from the University of Pretoria’s Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology department. “You can’t imagine what it’s like to have hearing loss because even if you try to close your ears, at most, you can induce a slight hearing loss.”

Swanepoel’s research lies in using connected technology – the combination of telehealth and mobile technologies – to make hearing healthcare more accessible. “ The fact that we have connectivity, but we also have these exponential technologies like smartphones, which really are supercomputers that we carry around in our pockets – how can we combine those to increase awareness, but also let people know what their hearing status is?” asks Swanepoel.

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