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3D Tune-In: Bringing hearing loss into the world of gaming

Posted on: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 by Tracey Pollard

The 3D Tune-In project explores exciting and engaging ways to learn about and experience hearing loss and hearing aids through the world of immersive 3D gaming. Jesal Vishnuram, our Technology Research Officer, tells us more about this unique project.

What is 3D Tune-In?

3D Tune-In is a project where developers are creating apps designed to help children and adults learn more about hearing loss and hearing aids. Hearing aid users can learn about the various functionalities of their hearing aids and how they can be used to improve hearing experience in different everyday situations.

Currently, the majority of hearing aid users have a low level of knowledge about the technology inside their hearing aids and the various functions that can be used to improve their listening experience. Also, hearing aid fittings are completed in a quiet audiology room which is nothing like the real world. Research has also shown that most hearing aid users do not change their settings at all due to a lack of knowledge about them, a lack of motivation to change them, or because they find them too difficult to change.

There is therefore an opportunity to address some of these issues and improve people’s hearing through training delivered by the 3D Tune-In apps. These apps can be used independently at home, on a computer, tablet or smartphone, or they can be used under the supervision of an audiologist, who can create a training schedule and monitor your progress between appointments.

The apps supplement existing training delivered by audiologists, and hearing aid users will be able to use the apps as often as they want in order to get the best from their device. They will be able to play games that will require them to use different hearing aid settings in simulated environments such as noisy restaurants and shopping centres in order to find the right hearing aid settings for them.

Gamification for Healthcare

Gamification refers to the use of techniques and principles of games (video games, classic games, role play, etc.) to motivate people to take action and achieve a goal. Gamification, as an educational tool, is becoming increasingly popular with organisations.

Yu-kai Chou, in his book Actionable Gamification - Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards, says, “In a few short years, gamification has reached a social tipping point and is starting to creep into every aspect of our lives - from education, work, marketing, parenting, sustainability, all the way to healthcare and scientific research”.

How does 3D Tune-In use gamification?

The developers are creating a series of applications and games that use some of the principles of gamification – like completing tasks/levels to win points and achieve goals - to create an immersive experience where the players can learn how to use their hearing aids. There are specific games for different age groups to make them suitable for a range of users. One of the games, Mosquito Catch, places players in an immersive virtual 3D environment full of nasty, invisible mosquitoes. The players have to move around the room and try to catch the mosquitoes by following the sounds they produce. This helps to improve sound localisation ability, through adjusting hearing aid settings in order to get the best score.

How can gamification benefit hearing aid users?

Gamification provides a much more exciting and user friendly way to learn and experience new things in a safe environment. By trial and error, users will be able to train their brains to hear better and optimise their hearing aid technology to benefit their individual needs.

One of the components of the app is going to be a hearing aid tuner, an accessible and straightforward game to help a wide variety of users to fine-tune their hearing aids. Hearing Aid Tuner will be crafted as an app for mobile phones and tablets equipped with headphones. The app will allow users to enter into a series of virtual scenes, e.g. a restaurant or a noisy street, in which they can adjust a virtual hearing aid through a set of simple-to-use and engaging games to find the best settings.

The app will be further developed by other 3D Tune-In partners to create games for a wider target audience, including children and audiologists. 3D Tune-In will also develop an open source (available to anyone) 3D sound toolkit that will allow external developers and companies to create their own games and applications to further improve the knowledge and experience of hearing loss and hearing aids.

Find out more

For further information about this project, visit the 3D Tune-In website (external link, opens new window).

 

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