Samsung Launches Phone App For People With Autism That Mutes Triggering Sounds
By Mikelle Leow, 07 Apr 2023
Many people with autism are hypersensitive to background sounds. The usual, temporary fix is to cancel out noises completely. Unfortunately, this isolates the individual from important auditory cues too.
Samsung has introduced an inclusive, first-of-a-kind mobile app, called Unfear, that goes beyond noise cancellation and selectively turns down the volume for specific, real-time sounds that may be fear-triggering for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Filtering can be personalized to the individual, with toggles to block out noises like sirens, children crying, barking, and sounds on the subway.
Unfear, designed to work on Galaxy Buds, harnesses machine learning to scan thousands of audio libraries in real-time to identify disturbing stimuli and suppress them as they’re happening.
Created by Samsung Electronics Iberia and Samsung-owned marketing agency Cheil Worldwide Spain, the app was unveiled during World Autism Acceptance Week with the hope of assisting and calming people with ASD during their day-to-day lives. Unfear is endorsed by the Spanish Society of Psychiatry and Mental Health Research, and was tested by 10 autism organizations, along with 100 ASD patients and their families.
Apart from external noises, Unfear silences in-app auditory distractions too, like explosive sounds in movies and video games, and background chatter in music.
During extremely triggering occasions or emergencies, users can activate a ‘calm mode’ with their voice, or sound out to call an emergency contact for assistance.
With this tailored experience, Unfear empowers people with autism to be part of social settings while being protected from anxiety-causing stimuli. The app could also be useful for people with hearing disorders and help them stay focused during conversations.
Alfonso Fernandez Iglesias, CMO and e-Commerce Director at Samsung Electronics, says the AI-powered tool is “pure technology with a purpose” and tackles the daily challenges of ASD to improve patients’ day-to-day life.
Unfear currently offers English and Spanish language support, and will be rolled out globally this year.
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