Just as looking at something with two eyes allows you to see it in 3D, we are aware of the importance of hearing with two ears. However, explaining the benefits of binaural hearing to candidates and those who care for them can sometimes be rather daunting. To better communicate the benefits of binaural hearing, we’ve created a hearing game called “Switch on Life”.
With the Switch on Life interactive educational game and platform, players can discover the difference between hearing with one ear and hearing with two. With interactive videos and tasks, players are confronted with everyday binaural and monaural hearing challenges, such as locating a sound source or understanding speech in noise.
Switch on Life can be used as an educational tool or shared with parents, loved ones and friends of hearing implant candidates during counseling to help them better understand why it is so important to hear with two ears. They will also find out what life is like when you can’t hear with two ears.
Two Hearing Games: A Variety of Exciting Challenges
The platform consists of two hearing games: “Meet Your Friends” and “Spatial Hearing”. In both hearing games, players face a variety of challenges: some with full binaural hearing and some with monaural hearing, as someone with unilateral hearing loss might experience the situation. Players are free to choose which way they prefer to encounter their first set of challenges: with one ear or with two.
In the first game, “Meet Your Friends,” players immerse themselves in a group conversation in a noisy restaurant. While listening, players are periodically presented with challenges. For example, they might be asked to locate the source of a sound or answer a question to test their ability to understand the conversation taking place between their friends.
Players are likely to notice that, with only one ear, following the conversation and trying to get the right answers to the listening comprehension questions is very difficult as well as exhausting. With two ears, in contrast, players should be better at localizing sound sources and have increased understanding of the conversation.
The second hearing game called “Spatial Hearing” allows players to test the limits of their sound localization capabilities. Players may soon discover that localization is impossible when hearing with only one ear, and they are likely to perceive that every sound originates from the same side. With two ears, they should more easily be able to tell if a sound originates on their right, left or in front of them. Some players might even able to determine how far a sound is to their right or left.
To create Switch on Life, we recorded sounds in a so-called “anechoic chamber” using a technique called binaural recording. When recording, a mannequin’s head was equipped with outer ears made of rubber and microphones were placed inside openings simulating external auditory canals on both sides of its head. The testing method used in the “spatial hearing” game, along with the equipment seen in the video, is used in clinical trials with different hearing solutions, as well as in scientific experiments in order to learn more about how binaural hearing works.
Following each game, players receive their results, showing how many challenges they have successfully completed.
After a player has finished both games, their results are summarized on one screen to allow them to compare their performances with simulated unilateral hearing loss to those with full binaural hearing. This is followed by a short talk with an expert on cochlear implants and binaural hearing.
Players Can Discover the Difference
Switch on Life can demonstrate the benefits of binaural hearing to those who may need to make a life-changing decision, such as parents of a hearing-impaired child who is a cochlear implant candidate. Players of Switch on Life will not only learn a bit about the research findings of hundreds of scientists who have contributed to our understanding of hearing, hearing loss and the treatment options, they may also benefit from this knowledge having been made much more accessible to them in a fun and engaging way.
Take a few minutes to explore Switch on Life and have fun discovering the difference that binaural hearing makes in people’s lives every day. You can also find out more about single-sided deafness and cochlear implants in our expert web series.