My family got matching fitness trackers for the holidays to help us stay motivated and active as the weather turns colder. We wore them on our holiday trip to the Caribbean where we competed daily to see who could get the most steps. My children always won (of course), but it was fun to see who would come in second and third. I seemed to always come in fourth since my morning exercise was yoga rather than running. Not a lot of steps in yoga.
What does this have to do with hearing loss? Not a lot so far, but on the second day I wore the Fitbit, it started vibrating. It was way too early in the day for me to have reached my step goal. I looked at my wrist and saw a phone number running across the display. I had a phone call! I ran to my cell phone and answered it. A life changing moment.
I have missed dozens of cell phone calls in my day. I just don’t hear the phone ring unless I am right near it. Sometimes I will feel it vibrate if I am carrying my purse, but many times, I will see the missed call or voicemail message later in the day. It is frustrating for everyone, but my friends and family know that if something is important — text me or try calling me again. I may be available, just unaware of the call.
But now I can receive this information on my wrist! My Fitbit vibrates when the phone rings or when I get a text message. It even reminds me of upcoming appointments. Wow!
Missing alerts is a serious problem for people with hearing loss — and not just for phone calls. Fire alarms, door bells, and alarm clocks are all easily overlooked if you can’t hear them. Several products exist to help with these important issues — smoke / carbon monoxide detectors and door bells with strobe lights and shaker alarm clocks — but it is nice that products are becoming available to deal with smaller problems too.
With more wearable technology emerging, there are likely to be many new products that can be used by people with hearing loss to stay informed and be alerted to danger, or even an incoming phone call. A google search displayed a plethora of smart watches that perform similar functions to my Fitbit as well as a product called Ditto that you clip to your clothing. I can’t wait to see what innovations are yet to come.
Readers, would you wear something that alerted you to phone calls and text messages?