Project AMP aims to use your Windows Phone to replace expensive hearing tests

Every year, for the past decade or so, Microsoft has been holding its Imagine Cup competition and this year's finals are right around the corner. Later this month, teams from across the globe will meet in Seattle to show off their projects with the goal of enriching the world around them.

As part of this competition, we love to put the spotlight on teams to showcase not only their hard work, but to show what is possible when great minds come together around a common goal. One team who has made it to the finals is Project AMP, from Pakistan.

This team is taking on the challenge of finding a way to lower the cost of hearing aid testing. The thinking behind the project is simple: with smartphones and Bluetooth headsets around us all the time, why can't we re-purpose these devices to augment hearing aid testing?

Well, that's exactly what they are doing with their app. The goal is to replace "expensive hearing aid frequency processing with Windows Phone 8 and a Bluetooth headset". The app also includes the ability to incorporate auditory Brainstem Response (EEG) for examining hearing loss in infants.

But they didn't stop with simply building a mobile app, they have also built a back-end solution that allows you to share the data with a doctor as well. 

Another added benefit of this app is that, since it lives on a mobile phone, this makes it easy to take it to locations where expensive hearing equipment is not readily available. 

Project AMP is only one of the many apps that will be presented in Seattle later this month with the hopes of taking home the grand prize of $50,000 and as we get closer to the finals, we will continue to highlight a few of the teams.

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9 Comments

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People seem to be missing the point. A low-end Windows Phone handset with a pair of bluetooth headphones is now a functional, mobile, EMR-connected hearing test center. Take it to the school, take it to a village, use it in the doctor's office... and presumably for less than the cost of dedicated equipment.

Just out of curiosity, who prioritises purchasing a smartphone over paying for medical care? I'd rather pay for that than rely on an 'app' on the phone I'd just bought.

Imagine if a company came out with a bluetooth hearing device for tests just like this... i bet that peripheral would sell tons to the med field.

Three comments:
1) Unless I'm mistaken, currently no Windows Phone handset's (or any mobile handset's) built in speaker system has a frequency range adequate enough to accurately reproduce all audible frequencies (i.e. 20Hz - 20kHz) to correctly facilitate a hearing test.

2) The type of people who'd be using a Windows Phone are generally not people who are 60+, for whom hearing tests are more useful/beneficial to than Windows Phone user's current demographic (i.e. people MUCH younger!)

3) Hearing tests (in the UK at least) are NOT "expensive" - far from it, many high street retailers (i.e. opticians) offer FREE hearing tests!

So, all in all, this seems like a pointless project IMO!

GreatMarkO said,
Three comments:
1) Unless I'm mistaken, currently no Windows Phone handset's (or any mobile handset's) built in speaker system has a frequency range adequate enough to accurately reproduce all audible frequencies (i.e. 20Hz - 20kHz) to correctly facilitate a hearing test.

2) The type of people who'd be using a Windows Phone are generally not people who are 60+, for whom hearing tests are more useful/beneficial to than Windows Phone user's current demographic (i.e. people MUCH younger!)

3) Hearing tests (in the UK at least) are NOT "expensive" - far from it, many high street retailers (i.e. opticians) offer FREE hearing tests!

So, all in all, this seems like a pointless project IMO!

Second point is wrong

GreatMarkO said,
Three comments:
1) Unless I'm mistaken, currently no Windows Phone handset's (or any mobile handset's) built in speaker system has a frequency range adequate enough to accurately reproduce all audible frequencies (i.e. 20Hz - 20kHz) to correctly facilitate a hearing test.

2) The type of people who'd be using a Windows Phone are generally not people who are 60+, for whom hearing tests are more useful/beneficial to than Windows Phone user's current demographic (i.e. people MUCH younger!)

3) Hearing tests (in the UK at least) are NOT "expensive" - far from it, many high street retailers (i.e. opticians) offer FREE hearing tests!

So, all in all, this seems like a pointless project IMO!

1) external headsets have better range

2) I'm a 30 something with hearing loss suffered in my 20s from working around machines. Hearing loss can be anyone's problem.

3) sure hearing tests in the UK are free. Not so much in Pakistan, where these guys are from. I bet even in rural areas of the UK though hearing tests cost someone quite a bit to get performed.

All in all an lengthy unthoughtful unenlightened post. I'd buy their app in a hot second.

1) Unless I'm mistaken, currently no Windows Phone handset's (or any mobile handset's) built in speaker system has a frequency range adequate enough to accurately reproduce all audible frequencies (i.e. 20Hz - 20kHz) to correctly facilitate a hearing test.

2) The type of people who'd be using a Windows Phone are generally not people who are 60+, for whom hearing tests are more useful/beneficial to than Windows Phone user's current demographic (i.e. people MUCH younger!)

3) Hearing tests (in the UK at least) are NOT "expensive" - far from it, many high street retailers (i.e. opticians) offer FREE hearing tests!

This app does open an interesting possibility of a third party headset capable of operating across the entire human hearing range, and even accommodating for some outliers. Whether such a device would be economically palatable for the targeted users remains in doubt. Regardless, most headset devices do produce tones within the range of normal human speech, which is where deafness can make the most impact.

Diagnosis of hearing loss can be extremely beneficial for children, which is why at least in the US, hearing tests are conducted regularly throughout K-12. A lack of ability to understand speech is a huge impediment during the associated years of childhood.

I don't think this system would be even as precise as a free test in a first-world country. Nonetheless, it would be an effective method of identifying significantly debilitating cases, and is mobile and rugged, which remains a concern for rural areas where a patient might not be able to, for example, take public transport to one of four major hospitals in the city.