Smartphone applications have been developed for numerous audiologic/otologic purposes. These functions include, but are not limited to pocketalker/amplifier, remote control/multimedia function for hearing aid interface, hearing screener, sound-level meter, and otoscope. What’s left? Tuning fork, of course.
Hopkins and Owens (2019) examined use of the iBrateMe© vibration application on an iPhone for performing a Weber’s test. In the experiment, 20 participants without diagnosed hearing loss wore an earplug in either ear to simulate a conductive hearing loss. A 512 Hz tuning fork was compared to the iPhone. Each device (tuning fork and iPhone) was placed on the forehead with firm pressure and the participant was asked to report in which ear the sound was perceived loudest. The results demonstrated that the iPhone and 512 Hz tuning fork had comparable results with participants lateralizing the sound to the occluded ear. The study had numerous limitations, small sample size, lack of audiometric data, and use of simulated conductive hearing loss; thus, clinical applications remain to be determined.
If you are feeling the vibrations, check out Hopkins and Owens (2019). Can smartphone vibration provide a valid alternative to tuning forks for use on the ENT ward round?
Hopkin ME, Owens D.(2019) Can Smartphone Vibration Provide a Valid Alternative to Tuning Forks for Use on the ENT Ward Around? J Laryngol Otol 133(3):245–247.
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