An interview with Matthew Turner
An interview with Matthew Turner (Audacious founder) on how being unable to speak to his children over the phone when travelling, drove him to create world-first technology which uses the same technology as hearing aids.
When did you discover your hearing loss?
I was born deaf as a result of jaundice, but I was five before I was diagnosed with profound deafness in my right ear and severe hearing loss in my left ear.
Do you wear hearing aids?
I was fitted with analogue hearing aids as a child and digital aids in my thirties.
How did you cope with hearing loss growing up?
During my school years, I was, quite simply, expected to cope. I learnt very early on to expect no help, rely on no one and make sure you fight to be heard. I can’t recall a single person at home, at school, at university or work where any one individual or entity looked to help me.
What impact does hearing loss have on your life?
The most negative impact of hearing loss is social isolation – the loss of that human connection, that bond that ties us to people, creates friendships and fuels family life.
How does technology help you in your adult life?
Wireless hearing aids have had a massive influence on my ability to communicate and to do the work I do. We need to help people make advances in technology work for them – and be included (rather than excluded) from increasingly digital society.
What inspired you to invent Audacious?
Without getting too technical, the telecoms industry and the explosive growth of mobile telephony created services and products that were not commensurate with our needs as people with hearing loss. I was working abroad a lot and without the necessary means, it meant I struggled to communicate; in particular, with my family. This is when I had with the idea of a ‘hearing aid in the sky’.
What is the hearing aid ‘in the sky’?
I realised that the digital circuitry for hearing aids could be applied to the telecoms network. I conceived an idea of a ‘hearing aid in the sky’ that isn’t reliant on expensive handsets or devices: that could personalise any individual’s hearing loss in the way a hearing aid does – but over the telephone line. I became convinced that the only way forward was to find a solution that could educate people about the importance of human connection through speech intelligibility and clarity. It was very clear to me that lip-service to disability was easier than actually being positive about how to address it on a daily basis. This was the reality; I had to use that reality to find a solution – and not to give up or be brushed aside.
How did you develop your idea?
The trick was to marry telecoms infrastructure and software with the science of audiology, testing for hearing loss and audio processing. This is where leading scientists in hearing and audiology, Professor Brian Moore and Dr Michael Stone, played such an important part in its development.
How does Audacious help people with hearing loss?
Audacious is using mobile technology to improve the lives of all of us – with and without hearing loss. It’s about the human touch through sound, through voice and being able to hear and share the need to communicate.
What is your hope for Audacious in the future?
Ultimately, the aim is for the technology that underpins the Audacious service to become a global standard in the way we test and process voice over the telecoms networks.
See how Matthew’s technology could work for you: Take the Audacious Sound Check and find out what your current hearing is like over your mobile phone. You will be able to hear the difference between a ‘standard call’ and a call that has been processed by Audacious Clear Call technology. If you prefer the Audacious call, you can purchase a SIM Only plan which will use your personal hearing profile to process all your calls to your hearing.