Alongside its artificial intelligence coach, Apple Health and Google Fit integrations, activity-tracking sensors and language translation functionalities, the Livio AI connected hearing aid has a new slew of feature to brag about — chief among which is automatic fall detection and alerts.
As of an update announced yesterday, Minnesota-based Starkey Hearing Technologies’ device can now identify when its user has suffered a fall and send secure a warning notification to as many as three preselected emergency contacts. After confirming their identity, the system’s location tracking allows the emergency contact to see on a map where the wearer has fallen. Additionally, users can manually trigger an emergency alert by tapping a button on the device itself, with an option to cancel the alert if needed using the paired app.
“We’ve built in a number of ways that people can use the technology right on their ears to notify, either automatically in the case of a fall or manually in the case of if they need help, one of those contacts. And they in turn will receive that alert and know right where you were when you initiated that alert,” Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Dave Fabry, said in a video provided to MobiHealthNews by Starkey Hearing Technologies. “We think that it’s not a stretch to [say this technology] will save lives.”
Beyond the fall detection, the system’s updates also include a Google-powered virtual assistant. According to Starkey, the app-based Thrive Virtual Assistant can answer questions from the wearer — for instance, “what’s today’s weather forecast?” — as well as guide the user though troubleshooting with the device itself. Additionally, the hearing aid is now rechargeable and supports voice-to-text transcription through the paired app.
Why it matters
Hearing loss is prevalent among older demographics, and roughly 3 million seniors are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries each year according to a 2016 estimate from the CDC. Livio AI’s update addresses both issues within a single device, with a collection of quality-of-life features to boot.
What’s the trend
AARP chief medical officer Charlotte Yeh recently put out the call for more technologies that can keep seniors engaged and socially connect, with hearing device technologies at the top of her list. But it’s not like the past year hasn’t seen any developments in this space — besides the initial launch of Livio AI back in August, ReSound LiNZ Quattro launched an app-connected hearing aid in September while Lively’s telehealth hearing assessment and audiologist consultation service found its legs late last month.