Sennheiser has developed MobileConnect, the WiFi-based system for barrier-free hearing, to give people an individual listening experience. This is not just about people with a hearing loss, who can use their smartphone as a receiver for audio transmission, for example during lectures. People with an intact sense of hearing also use the MobileConnect app to focus 100% on the spoken word. This article highlights the challenge as well as solutions on how to stay focused despite outside distractions. For information on the current situation of people with hearing loss, see this blogpost.
“To be able to hear what’s really happening in the world, you have to block out 99% of the noise”.
We all can relate to this quote by author Jonathan Franzen when it comes to the attempt of working or learning with focus and concentration. Just think of the infamous open floor office that often displays an environment so noisy that it is practically impossible to work concentrated and productively. As a University of California Irvine study shows, it takes about 30 minutes to refocus on task after a distraction. It is no surprise that noise cancelling headphones and headsets have become increasingly popular in recent years – especially in times of work from home when everyday family life often takes place in the immediate background.
Environmental noise in everyday life
But not only the world of work gets noisier and more distracting. Rather, every aspect of modern life is characterized by a lot of distractions that make it ever harder to stay concentrated and focused in the present moment. No wonder that meditation and mindfulness apps are popular among people who attempt to find (acoustical) rest in our digital world. One thing that is experienced by many as especially stressful is the environmental noise of the modern world. If you live in an urban setting, daily life is characterized by a lot of background noises from construction work, traffic noise and the persistent soundscape in your apartment building. It is this permanent background noise that can affect your mental health immensely.
Environmental noise and mental health
Unwanted background noise is described by many as especially unnerving compared to other stressors in our modern lifestyle. The problem is that it forms a source of ceaseless stimuli for our sense of hearing: we simply can’t shut our ears as easily as we can shut our eyes. Noise can trigger a stress response in our brain that leads to a release of cortisol better known as the stress hormone. Noise-induced stress can cause severe cardiovascular disorders and negatively impact our sleep, our ability to learn and our motivation.
According to the European Environment Agency, long-term exposure to environmental noise is estimated to cause 12.000 premature deaths and to contribute to 48.000 new cases of ischemic heart disease per year in Europe. It is estimated that 22 million people suffer chronic high annoyance and 6.5 million people suffer chronic high sleep disturbance.
You may wonder if persons, with a (partial) hearing loss are less sensitive to environmental noise. Surprisingly, studies show that hearing loss doesn’t lead to higher noise tolerance.
5 tips for more focus
It is often difficult to find our focus. But there are some easy technics to train your mind and your body to be more concentrated.
1. Practice meditation or mindfulness routines
Breathing exercises or mindfulness technics like a body scan meditation can help you to stay focused in the present moment without worrying about future tasks or problems that you could not solve yesterday.
2. Engage in a healthy lifestyle
Mens sana in corpore sano - A healthy mind should dwell in a healthy body: A healthy diet, enough sleep and a balanced workout routine create a rested, yet alert mind that can focus fully on its task without being distracted of suffering from brain fog.
3. Focus on priorities
We all have a long to do list every day with various work tasks as well as duties and responsibilities in our private life. Ask yourself everyday what is REALLY important – when in doubt, stick to positive procrastination!
4. Avoid multitasking
Multitasking was long praised as the ultimate method to boost your productivity. But several studies show that the brain is not designed for heavy-duty multitasking. Although we might feel the impulse to dedicate ourselves to all the tasks on our to do list at once, we will be more productive if we focus on every single task on our list, one after the other.
5. Use a Music for Focus playlist
Music for focus, especially binaural beats, work wonders for many people who aim to work more concentrated. You might also want to try white noise, pink noise or the so-called Brownian noise – multi-award-winning author Zadie Smith swears by it!
Full focus on the spoken word without background noise
Did you know that in a room of 500 students, on average, there are 10 students with moderate or higher hearing loss? Especially in such crowded environments, wearing hearing aids is simply not enough as it picks up disturbing environmental sounds too. Sennheiser has developed MobileConnect to bring the lecturer’s voice to the students’ smartphones and help them to better concentrate on the lecture. MobileConnect is also popular among persons who experience no hearing loss but want to focus fully on the spoken word without being distracted.
MobileConnect is a system for hearing support via WiFi that offers an individually optimized hearing experience. As a receiver, the system uses a device that we all have in our pocket anyway: the smartphone. As a person with hearing loss or someone who simply wants to concentrate better on the event without being distracted by ambient noise, all you need is the MobileConnect app on your iPhone or Android device. The audio signal is streamed to the room via WiFi. You can sit anywhere in the room without losing speech intelligibility.
Once the app is installed, the available audio channels can be easily selected in the app or found via a QR code. And since preferences and individual hearing needs vary greatly from person to person, the sound can be customized with the help of the Personal Hearing Assistant. This makes MobileConnect the perfect tool for focusing on the spoken word.
As we have seen, the high levels of ambient noise in our modern world can literally make us sick. Mindfulness apps and tools like MobileConnect can help us stay focused and contribute to better mental and physical health.
Are you interested in the topic of assistive listening and would like to learn more? Feel free to visit our website: www.sennheiser.com/mobileconnect