Hillel's Tech Corner: Tunefork: Ensuring you hear the sounds being made

Tunefork tech allows all, including seniors and those with impairments, to hear every nuance.

Tunefork (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
 The ability to hear is something we don’t really think about too often. It’s just something we do. Well, here’s a confession I don’t think I’ve ever shared. I was in artillery in the army and many people told me to wear ear plugs because the machinery is very loud. I ignored their advice and I’m pretty sure it affected my hearing, but I’ve never confirmed it.
Hearing is an individual experience. Each of us is born with a unique hearing “earprint” that changes over time and dictates how we experience sound.
Do you remember that time in second or third grade when you were taken out of your class, put in a quiet room, had headphones placed on your ears and told to raise your hand when you heard the beep? For most of us that was the last time we thought about screening for our hearing health. The hearing screening is actually a simple “pass” or “fail” test and its purpose is to determine how well you hear different sounds. It usually consists of a series of beeps or tones at the limit of normal range to see if you are able to hear them.
Disabling Hearing Loss (DHL) affects 460 million people (according to World Health Organization research) but more than 1.3 billion people, including most adults over 50, suffer from hearing difficulties that can result in serious health issues, potential loss of employment and reduced quality of life.
Furthermore, these hearing issues can create difficulties for sufferers in utilizing smartphones and other digital devices and services, and prevent them from obtaining maximum benefit from their technologies. Approximately 15% of adults ages 18 and over report some trouble hearing, and the World Health Organization reports that some one billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing degradation stemming from listening to music and playing games regularly at high volumes.
For hundreds of millions suffering from mild to severe hearing impairment, one early-stage start-up aims to return lost sounds. Tunefork’s technology promises to allow all, including seniors and individuals with hearing impairment, to listen to music with pristine accuracy, hear every nuance when watching videos and be more productive when participating in video conferences.
Once again, most of us don’t realize just how dependent we are on our hearing in our day-to-day lives. Think about how often you depend on your ability to hear, and the last time you thought to yourself how fortunate you are to be able to hear.
Tunefork is a cloud-based software solution providing audio personalization and an optimal hearing experience for all. The company’s advanced application enables the user, regardless of age or impairment, to conduct a simple hearing test on their mobile phone that grades the user’s specific hearing. The self-test, which is reminiscent of the one you took in grade school, produces a characterization of the user’s earprint and creates a personal audio profile. That personal audio profile, together with sophisticated algorithms, creates optimal, customized, audio specifications for operation on smartphones and other digital devices. Tunefork adjusts frequencies to improve your listening experience when on your favorite music, podcast, video streaming service or web conferencing platforms. 
In addition to the obvious benefits for the aid of those suffering from hearing loss, Tunefork also ensures clearer audio for all. Streaming music companies like Spotify, Deezer and Tidal are promoting premium services to their subscribers with the promise that they will be able to upgrade their sound quality and listen to their favorite songs “the way the artists intended.” What these streaming giants are missing is the last mile: What happens when that upgraded sound gets to the listener’s ear? Tunefork is providing that last mile and ensuring more depth and clarity to the individual in a way that the streaming services cannot. The Tunefork experience provides improved audio and is truly for everyone.
The company was founded in 2016 by Tomer Shor and Dr. Yoav Blau, both graduates of the IDF’s elite 8200 technology unit. Shor and Blau, who met when both were attending an Israeli conference on hearing and audiology technologies, have extremely personal reasons for their focus on optimized audio. Shor’s father suffered hearing loss as a result of his own IDF service, and Blau’s wife was born with a hearing impairment. 
To date, the company has raised $2,000,000 from Triventures (one of my personal favorite venture capitalists) ARC, NEOME Group and additional grants from the Israel Innovation Authority and the European Union’s Horizon 2020. A new funding round is currently underway with an eye on additional R&D and business development.
A trial with the aid of the Hearing Loss Association of America determined that “Tunefork’s solution was reported to add clarity to speech, add overtones to music tracks and generally enrich audio.”
The technology is currently undergoing a clinical trial at the Hearing, Speech, & Language Center at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, designed to compare the Tunefork testing method against conventional audiometry. The hospital has published extremely positive midterm results regarding Tunefork’s hearing screening mobile application and has found them to be quite similar to those expected in a professional environment. With information gained through its proprietary self-hearing test, Tunefork has created a Global Hearing Database that may be leveraged to gain valuable and unique insights from bio-data.
Everyone can access and benefit from optimized sound with the Tunefork App, which is currently available for Android on the Google Play Store, with IOS available soon. As Tunefork is cloud-based and device-agnostic, a user’s Personal Audio Profile will be applied to all devices with cross-platform consistency protecting hearing health while significantly improving the listening experience whether listening to music, watching a movie or participating in a Zoom call. Tunefork has several thousand users in the US and Israel, and is currently working on collaborations with music and video-streaming services, telecommunication providers and hardware manufacturers.
For those many hundreds of millions of users who need to improve their hearing, Tunefork is a godsend that will surely enhance many people’s lives!