Products27th March 2014

A 'Smart Ear' for warnings

New app for smartphones can listen to your surroundings and alert you to alarms or other noises.

by Sarah Lawrence

A company called Braci is pioneering a new application with great possibilities for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people that they’re calling a ‘smart ear’. It’s a unique application for your smartphone or ‘smart watch’ that is able to recognise sounds in your immediate environment and alert the user if needed.

The mobile app is able to identify sounds like fire alarms, babies crying, car horns and doorbells, then alerts the user to the sound and displays an image indicating the source of the noise. The software is pre-programmed to know the sounds of most alarms and doorbells, but if it doesn’t recognise yours, then you are able to record it so it can learn new sounds that you want to be alerted to.

Pebble WatchesIt offers multiple ways of alerting the user including showing an image on screen, flashing lights on the phone and vibrating. Their admirable vision is to create “a world where the hearing impaired and the hearing society benefit from the same safety standards”. They’re currently working on a version of the software for mobile phones, and two smart watches – the Pebble and the Samsung Gear.

In the past having your phone always listening has caused significant battery drain – meaning it might work well, but you don’t want to have to charge your phone every 2 hours. Braci say that their software uses the same battery power as other apps on your phone like WhatsApp and will still alert you to important sounds in under 2 seconds and from up to 35m (114 ft.) away.

Example AlertOf course the app has uses for people who aren’t Deaf or Hard of Hearing too; how about people who are very heavy sleepers and sleep through the noise of their alarm clock? Perhaps they would be woken more easily by a vibrating alarm from their phone and this app. What about a replacement for baby monitors so parents are aware their baby has woken up in the bedroom? Another great advantage this system has over older ‘pager’ style alert systems is that it requires no changes or expensive equipment fitted to any buildings; it all works from your own mobile phone.

The original Braci braceletsThe project started at the end of last year via a crowd funding website called Zoomaal where they originally started working on a similar notification system that worked with a bracelet you would wear. But with smart watches becoming increasingly common now it makes sense that they’re trying to be compatible with devices we are already wearing on our wrists.

The app isn’t available for download yet, but when it is, we’ll let you know – in the meantime if you’d like to find out any more information you can check out the Braci website at

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Technology / Products

27th March 2014