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This is how Android phones can help be ‘ears’ for the deaf and the hard of hearing

Google has introduced a new feature that will help a lot of people at home, but especially the deaf and hard of hearing. Android phones can now give you notifications if they detect certain sounds.

The feature is called Sound Notifications—looking out for sounds that are meant to grab your attention when something important is happening. You’ll be able to get notifications for sounds like:

  • Smoke and fire alarms
  • Siren
  • Shouting
  • Baby sounds
  • Doorbell ringing
  • Knocking
  • Dog barking 
  • Appliance beeping
  • Water running
  • Landline phone ringing

To get the Sound Notifications feature, you’ll need this app downloaded first—it’s only compatible with Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and up. If you have a Google Pixel phone, the app is automatically installed.

You’ll then need to follow this page for instructions. It’ll also give you tips like keeping your phone in the middle of the room if you want the sounds detected there. It’ll also advise you to keep other noises like the TV down low.

Once you switch on the feature, you can have your Android phone notify you of the sounds via a push notification, a flash from your camera light, or by making your phone vibrate. They also work entirely offline.

Other devices support Sound Notifications as well, including Wear OS devices. Wear OS devices can give you notifications with vibrations on your wrist. That way, you can continue to get alerts about critical sounds even when you are asleep—a concern shared by many in the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Source: Google

The feature also has a Timeline view, where you can scroll through a brief snapshot of detected sounds from the past few hours. This will help you figure out how important the sounds are—like if a dog is barking because he hears the smoke alarm or a door knocking.

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Sound Notifications will not only help the deaf and hard of hearing, but for others who prefer to work with headphones—as they might not be able to hear important sounds. For Apple users, iOS 14 also introduced their Sound Recognition feature, which does the same job.


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