Hearoes – Conquering Hearing Challenges with Games

Hearoes is a gamified learning platform for people to learn and adapt to the challenges they might face as part of receiving new hearing aids or implants – hearing for the first time or learning to hear again. It aims to provide a dynamic and engaging experience (because everyone learns differently) to teach your brain to adapt to your new way of hearing.

We recently spoke with the founder and creator, Elliot Miller, about his life and the Hearoes platform…

Hey Elliot, thanks for taking the time to speak with us – we know you’re a busy man! Firstly, tell us a little about yourself …

Elliott MillerHi, thanks for the opportunity to chat with you today. I’ve been deaf in both ears with severe hearing loss in my left and profound hearing loss in my right, for different reasons, which is quite a unique situation.

I’ve grown up with hearing aids in both ears, until 2014, when I received a cochlear implant in my left ear. It’s a life changing experience when receiving a cochlear implant as although I’ve been able to hear new sounds, I’ve had to train my brain and learn how to identify them. And because it’s a different way of hearing, I also have to re-learn the sounds I could previously identify.

I am a very visual person, with a passion for technology and fascinated with how we learn through interactions including play. This has led me to start a company called Digitally Blessed, doing logos and website designs. I also love video games and not just playing them, but also looking at the different types of games because I find it amazing that two different people can play the same game but have completely different experiences.

Following this, I studied Games Design and then became a researcher at Griffith University around how we learn through play and gamification, which led me to start my most recent company called “Hearoes,” to help those with hearing loss globally learn new sounds and gain confidence with their new way of hearing.

Can you explain more about Hearoes?

Hearoes is a fun and accessible auditory training platform for all ages, with over 60 unique mini games across key modules and learning materials. It’s like Duolingo but for auditory training. It has activities focusing on environmental sounds, introduction to words, vowels, consonants and sentences and narratives featuring across three different accents (including Australian) both male and female.

Hearoes aims to provide a dynamic and engaging experience (because everyone learns differently) to help you make the most of the challenges you might have when teaching your brain to adapt to your new way of hearing.

We work with clinicians (audiologist and speech pathologist) to mix the science of the content with the art of learning through play, so we can provide a therapeutic approach with dialogistic results. We wanted to make Hearoes as accessible as possible so it’s available on iOS, Android, Windows, and MacOS.

A key feature (aside from the fact it’s based on play) is that you can share your progress with others such as your clinician, teacher or friends to help you maximise and share the experience together. The great thing is anyone looking to learn new sounds or work on their phonetics or memory and retention can pick it up and find value from it anytime, anywhere.

Where did the idea come from, and how did you get to where you are today with the business?

Good question! I’ll always remember jogging down the street shortly after having my implant “switched on” and I noticed a sound that I couldn’t identify. I stopped to try and work out what it was, but I could no longer notice the sound. It wasn’t until I got home later that day that I realised that it was the coins in my pocket.

This became a realisation that although it’s a milestone, receiving an implant or a hearing device, it can be a challenge as you need to train your brain to identify your new way of hearing. It’s like trying to drive a sports car, when you don’t have a licence or have never driven a car before.

Fascinated with Games and interactive design, I was interested in how we learn through play or gamification as it’s often known as.

So, using my games design background, I ended up creating a couple of mini games to help myself with sounds that I was finding challenging to identify and showed it to my hearing specialist who found a lot of value in it and shared it with her other clients. From there, I ended up doing what’s known as a “hackathon” which is essentially a sprint on learning as much as you can in couple days about redefining the solution, which led to the opportunity to collaborate a with Queensland Health – they now utilise Hearoes in their hospitals.

To date, there are over 1000 people logging in to play Hearoes as well as a number of different organisations and schools finding value in helping the joys of hearing from all around the world, which is growing each month. It’s very motivating to see the value that Hearoes is able to provide and being able to help those who, in many cases, have daily challenges with hearing loss and perhaps their new way of hearing.

The platform is essentially a set of games, can you explain the benefits to providing content that has been “gamified” to users?

By using the concept of “Games” and “Play”, we’re able to increase retention of new skills. As the recipient is focused on a goal-oriented pathway, which they find is suitable for their level, they are often engaged in the activity itself, therefore learning “effortlessly” as the whole brain is engaged indirectly resulting in strengthening brain plasticity.

The games and activities in Hearoes have not only been designed to cater for all ages, but also to provide a very dynamic experience, as everyone learns differently. We can therefore provide a personalised journey and the user focus on challenges best suited for their own pathway and learnings.

Furthermore, we really focused on the re-play value in the sense that each time you play an activity it creates a different experience and interaction, therefore continually learning and working towards the goals you want to achieve in an engaging way.

An example of one of the game screens within the Hearoes app, where users are asked to identify a sound from within the kitchen.

Can you give us an example of a game Hearoes users  can playand the positive outcomes they can gain from it?

All the activities have been carefully designed to focus on different aspects like an activity called “What’s that order?” In this game, you play the role in a burger shop and people will ask for different things they want on their order, such as a veggie burger with extra cheese, no mayo, a drink on the side for takeaway and then you try and replicate the order that they’ve placed. It sounds easy enough, but starts becoming progressively harder as people start having a longer list of items to order from your burger shop.

This activity focuses on auditory memory or memory retention and can be benefitable not just for those learning to identify sounds with their new way of hearing, but also those who want to improve their memory skills.

This activity actually came from real world experience of working at a burger shop myself during high school and having to remember different orders (sometimes at the same time). The significance isn’t just in the content or learning outcomes which it aims to provide, but also being able articulate how these outcomes and the skills being learnt can apply in real life scenarios.

Who should use Hearoes?

People of any age who have just received a new hearing device whether a cochlear implant, hearing aid or bone conducting tend to find the most value in Hearoes.

When developing Hearoes, our mission is to make the most accessible and engaging experience that we could for all ages – from the content to the interactivity. In doing so, we have found that a wide range of people with hearing loss have found value in learning the sounds, because although some people might have different specific challenges on their hearing journey, a lot of people will go through a similar pathway – although the end results are similar for most people, they will almost all approach it in different ways.

We’ve found that a lot of specialists in the space, such as speech pathologists and audiologists from hospitals to smaller clinics, have also found Hearoes to be very useful for a number of reasons. For example, the ability to learn and further understand how their recipients are progressing in their hearing journey and in doing so, help maximise outcomes together throughout process of the recipient’s new way of hearing.

How do people access the service Hearoes has to offer and what can they expect from it?

One of our key focuses is accessibility and giving everyone the opportunity to experience valuable content which can help assist them in their hearing journey.

People can experience what Hearoes is from our website www.hearoes.com.au or via the app store by searching for “Hearoes” on their iOS or Android device (phones or tablet).

Where do you see the most benefit gained from using Hearoes?

We continue to receive some amazing feedback from people of all ages and different stages of their hearing journey, not only on the individual activities or areas of training, but also throughout their training in overall.

An area that I tend to receive a lot of feedback and testimonials from is from those playing the vocabulary and sentences activities. A number of users have mentioned that their ability to understand speech has gone from 0% to over 90% in about 6-7 months, which to put in perspective, could take perhaps twice as long if using other traditional methods of training.

By way of feedback, it’s been extremely rewarding especially in understanding the value and improvements Hearoes can bring to some of the challenges people may be facing.

We understand Hearoes (and you as its founder), were accepted into and have been participating in a Health-tech startup Accelerator program called Lumina X – can you explain what this is and what it will mean for Hearoes into the future?

Very exciting to have the opportunity to be part of Lumina X program. I have learnt a tremendous amount, not just the business aspect, but also about healthcare. Being surrounded by like-minded people who  help create innovations within healthcare can make all the difference.

For Hearoes, this will certainly help further redefine and understand the benefits we can continue  providingto not just individuals but also to other organisations in healthcare when working together.

We’re only 10 weeks in and already starting to see some great results – I’m very excited for where it’s headed.

What is your ultimate goal for Hearoes?

Our ultimate goal is to really help empower those with hearing loss from all walks of life around the world to achieve their full potential.

Do NDIS Participants need to access their Plan Funds to use the app?

The aim has always been to provide the most accessible and engaging training experience possible, and at this stage, Hearoes is free to download and play..

As we introduce new content and features (we’re continually improving the Hearoes experience), we aim to introduce a plan which will help NDIS participants to use their plan funds in making sure Hearoes remains as accessible as possible and it continues to help those with hearing loss achieve their full potential.

If you would like to learn more about Hearoes or have any questions, you can visit our website at www.hearoes.com.au or email Elliot on elliot@hearoes.com.au.

NDSP Plan Managers is a NDIS registered provider specialising in NDIS Plan Management. If you are a NDIS Participant looking for the right Plan Manager, CLICK HERE to get in touch with our friendly team today.


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