Smartphones and apps have become so ubiquitous these days that they seem mundane, and it’s easy to forget how much potential they have. Luckily there are innovators who don’t take the technology for granted, and are always trying to see what they can do to aid the visually and hearing impaired. The results are a range of apps and attachments for the standard phone that can either help diagnose or ameliorate the effect of vision or hearing loss.
1. Vula Mobile
One of the biggest problems in eyecare is not the lack of equipment, since glasses are usually available and can be bought in some places for as little as $2.50. In many cases, the struggle is in getting a diagnosis for the correct type of glasses. Vula Mobile is a diagnostic app that has various test including a basic vision test that asks the patient questions about their vision, requests a photo of each eye, and then sends the information to a vision specialist for a diagnosis.
The hearing-impaired equivalent of Vula Mobile might be uHear, an app that lets non-trained users perform three easy hearing tests right on their phone and then compare their hearing to the normal hearing levels. The app also allows users to connect with a professional, and offers basic information about hearing loss.
3. Peek Retina
To diagnose some visual problems doctors need to look at the back of the eye, known as the retina. Usually doctors need an instrument called an opthalmoscope for this. But the Peek Vision Foundation developed an app and a lens attachment that allow non-specialist medics to take photos of the retina that may be needed to diagnose a patient.
4. Tap Tap
This app is not a diagnostic app, but instead helps the hard-of-hearing deal with hearing loss. For many people warning noises are easily distinguishable, but for the hard of hearing they may be harder to discern. This app plays the role of someone keeping an ear out for warnings: vibrating and flashing if it detects shouting, a doorbell, or a fire alarm that its user may have missed.
This app is also aimed at helping the effects of vision loss instead of diagnosing it. Aipoly is an object-recognition software that allows users to turn on their cameras and point it at objects around them. The app will then tell them what it is that the camera is “looking” at. The app does not use wifi, like other similar apps. It currently has about 1,000 objects that it recognizes, but creators hope to expand that number to 5,000 by the end of the year.
If you’ve ever heard of TTY technology for the deaf, this will seem familiar to you. But rather than relying on human interpreters or multiple calls, this app transcribes audio, either as a message or in-call. Users can also download the app for phone, computer, tablet and smartphone.