App aims to reduce hearing loss
Olivia Piva, 10, holds a device measuring the decibel level of the sound emitted from headphones. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian

A new app released by a Perth-based hearing institute aims to help plugged in children and adults from potentially subjecting themselves to harmful levels of noise when listening to their favourite music.

Created by software developer Peter Riggs for the Ear Science Institute Australia, the Safe and Sound app measures the decibel level of the sound emitted from headphones and gives the user a clear indication of how loud their music really is.

It also records the user's listening history and alerts them when they are close to their daily recommended dose of noise exposure.

Mr Riggs said the app took into account the volume setting, waveform of the audio track and the headphone type which users key in when registering to measure levels within five decibels, "if not more accurate".

"It was a real challenge (to design) because there's nothing quite like it," he said.

Health promotion coordinator for the institute, Natalie Leishman said permanent hearing damage was becoming a bigger issue as personal music players grew in popularity, particularly in children unaware of the irreversible damage they were causing.

"The damage that you can get can start from a young age but because it accumulates you may not realise it until you're a little bit older, so it's something that needs to be addressed from a young age," Ms Leishman said.

Less than four minutes of noise from an mp3 player or iPod at maximum volume can be just as damaging as exposure to industrial noise.

Mr Riggs said the app could give parents piece of mind that their children were listening to music at appropriate levels of noise and time.

"It's the duration of how long you listen to music as well as how loud it is that can do the damage," he said.

The app is currently available to be download for Android devices.

The West Australian

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