A Smartwatch App Can Alert People With Hearing Loss to Nearby Sounds

Dhruv Jain, who presented this new system, shares that the main motivation for the creation of this app came from his own experience and conversations that his colleagues and he had had with deaf and hard-of-hearing people over several years. He presented the phone and smartwatch application called SoundWatch, and it’s the virtual ASSETS conference on October 28th.

The smartwatch app - SoundWatchSound Awareness App

Jain, who has trouble hearing, uses SoundWatch at home to avoid sleeping through a smoke alarm. He also says that on a nature walk, it will tell him that birds are chirping and that there is a waterfall nearby. The sounds make him feel more present and connected to the world.

Such sound awareness applications for smartphones already exist. However, Jain prefers the immediacy of sound notifications on his wrist, rather than in his pocket. Surveys of deaf people or those who are hard of hearing show that he is not alone.

The SoundWatch application pairs an Android phone or smartwatch. The watch records ambient noises. It then sends the data to the smartphone for processing. When the phone detects a sound of interest, the smartwatch vibrates and a notification is displayed on its face.

More About the Smartwatch App

Jain, who is a computer scientist at the Washington University in Seattle, and colleagues designed the application to identify up to twenty noises. During the experiments, the SoundWatch application correctly identified those twenty sounds 81.2% of the time.

In the second prototype of HomeSound, the tablets sent information to a smartwatch, which is how the researchers got the idea to make the standalone app. When it’s set to listen only for door knocks, fire alarms, alarm clocks, or other urgent noises, the app shows 97.6% accuracy. Eight hard-of-hearing and deaf people who used the application around a university campus gave the app broadly favorable reviews. However, it should be noted that the app misclassified some of the noisy outdoor settings and sounds.

Jain and his colleagues are now working on a newer version of SoundWatch that users can train to recognize new sounds, such as their house alarm, using just a few recordings.

Scientists Have Made Plants That Glow to Help Reduce Our Impact on the Environment

When you think about plants, it’s likely that your mind automatically goes for pretty things that sit in the corner of your living room or in your backyard — and the things that have the added bonus of purifying the air. However, have you ever thought about how plants that glow could potentially reduce our energy usage and our impact on the environment? We’re gonna go ahead and assume that you haven’t. To many people, it just seems like a fictitious concept.

Scientists Have Made Plants That Glow to Help Reduce Our Impact on the Environment

Creating Something Incredible

There’s no doubt about the fact that we have some incredible scientists in this world, and many of them have worked hard throughout their lives to make scientific discoveries that will forever change how we live our lives. Well, a new report published in Nature Biotechnology has brought the work of 27 scientists to light — and their reports center around the plants that are often close by.

Glowing and Growing

Within their research, these scientists discovered that they could create plants that produced their very own visible luminescence. They took inspiration from the bioluminescence found in various mushroom strains, and they noticed that the metabolic make-up of these mushrooms wasn’t far off from common plants. When they inserted the DNA from the mushroom into these plants, the glow that was produced was brighter than they could have ever imagined.

Scientists Have Made Plants That Glow to Help Reduce Our Impact on the Environment

Reducing Our Usage

Of course, this natural light could work wonders with regard to our everyday life. As a society that uses a huge amount of energy to light countless objects on a daily basis, these glowing plants could come in pretty handy. In fact, many scientists believe that their uses could be limitless and that they could also help to reduce our negative impact on the environment. What could be better for that?

Who knows, maybe plants that glow could be the power of the future? We can’t wait to see what happens next.