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14 August, 2019 - 10:04 By Kate Sweeney

Cambridge helps create mobile network that fights phone phobia

A Cambridge don has helped develop life-changing technology with a new mobile network – branded Audacious – launched today to offer personalised calls to people based on their unique hearing profile and help address issues of isolation.

Audacious is designed for anyone who experiences difficulty hearing calls on their mobile – whether because they are in a crowded place or because of compromised hearing ability.

Almost a quarter of UK people contacted for a poll to accompany the product launch reported avoiding answering the phone altogether due to their concerns of not hearing the person on the other end, leading to widespread phone phobia.

The phenomenon is leading to one in five people experiencing feelings of isolation as a result.

Audacious uses a world-first medically certified technology developed in partnership with audiologists to personalise mobile calls. Anyone can visit the Audacious website and take a quick, commitment free sound check to receive their own personal hearing profile. Customers can then order a personalised SIM card tailored to the individual way they hear. There is no need for users to upgrade or replace their handset; they simply swap their existing SIM card with a new Audacious one.

Audacious was founded by Matthew Turner, who has had moderate to severe hearing loss his whole life. He set up the network in response to the lack of support provided to him and many others by the telecoms networks.

Turner said: “Having lived with moderate to severe hearing loss since birth, I am fully aware of the emotional impact millions of people are experiencing as they struggle daily to communicate using the mobile phone. 

“It was a real struggle to talk on the phone and it had a negative impact on both my personal and professional life. As no mobile operator was offering or appeared to be working towards a solution to this global challenge, I made it my personal mission to develop the technology that could tailor phone calls to individual hearing loss or needs and so empower people across the UK to have better, clearer conversations.”

University of Cambridge hearing scientist, Professor Brian Moore, who has worked on developing Audacious said: “Holding a telephone at the entrance to the ear canal can make it difficult to understand what is being said for people who wear behind-the-ear hearing aids.

“Audacious replaces the function of the hearing aid by including signal processing to compensate for hearing loss in the mobile network. The processing is also tailored to the individual hearing ability of the user, by means of an initial hearing test that is used to set up a personal hearing profile. This can improve intelligibility and make it easier to understand the person on the other end.”

Former England Rugby player Ben Cohen who experiences hearing loss, has endorsed the technology breakthrough. He said: “I’ve never let my hearing loss hold me back, whether playing sport at an international level or learning to ballroom dance. 

“The one thing I find hard though is missing out on interactions with loved ones. I travel a lot and while text or email are great you can’t beat hearing the sound of someone’s voice. Audacious is a game changer as it means I can hear about my children’s day wherever I am.”

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