Hearing The World Through Machine Learning

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Startups use deep learning and advanced signal processing to improve hearing quality.

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Machine learning (ML) has quietly become part of our daily lives, powering our cars, the operations in our hospitals and the food we eat. Some of the most exciting companies applying ML don’t even call themselves “ML” companies. Auto is the most obvious example, as $10 billion of funding poured into the industry in 2019 alone. As we look forward to the next generation of verticals where ML will have a revolutionary impact, healthcare stands out as one the most promising. Within healthcare, there are now remarkable ways that ML can improve the quality of our hearing. 
A Centuries-Old Problem
The quietest sound you can hear starts to deteriorate as you age, but the loudest audible sound remains constant throughout your entire life. Hearing aids traditionally work by amplifying sounds with only very coarse adjustments, from the clinking plates in a restaurant to the sound of your child’s voice. They can be incredibly painful to wear, often drowning out the sounds you want to hear with noises you don’t and this is particularly salient in noisy public places. 
There are an estimated 48 million Americans experiencing some degree …

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