Fostering social connections: The essential role of speech understanding

Audiologist, Brandy Pouliot, AuD, shares why speech understanding is key to enjoying social interactions and how Phonak’s sound classifier, AutoSense OS, uses machine learning to activate the right settings so your patients can socialize with confidence and foster those important social connections.

Individuals with hearing loss often report poor speech understanding when there is competing noise present. Missing a word often means missing the point and before you know it, they’re playing catch up.

To feel confident in a group conversation, one must be nimble to adhere to the ‘no rules’ rules of conversations (talking over others, having multiple conversations in one group setting, changing the topic of conversation, distractions). 

However, even when these ‘no rules’ rules are followed, those with hearing loss struggle. Hearing loss can make it hard for them to be their natural selves in social situations and constantly improvising in conversations can make socializing exhausting. In response, they develop coping mechanisms, either dominating or dropping out of the moment altogether.

Withdrawing from socially-demanding activities can change relationship dynamics and is linked to decreased quality of life.1 As social beings, humans need social connections to maintain overall health as evidence points to its link to longevity as well as a positive impact on cognition and emotional well-being.2

AutoSense OS: 24 years of machine learning

To be nimble and have enjoyable social interactions, one must understand the words being spoken so they can tune in to which topic is being discussed, utilize cognitive resources to anticipate a change in topic and fill in the blanks when an unfamiliar word is used or when there’s background noise.

AutoSense OS is Phonak`s sound classifier trained with AI to automatically activate the right settings for improved speech understanding, even in challenging environments. Using machine learning, AutoSense OS constantly scans the environment 700 times per second to adaptively activate a host of features.

This means that your patient’s hearing aids will activate the optimal settings if they are in a quiet place, if they are speaking to someone in a noisy place or even if there is some reverberant noise around them.

Phonak’s latest platform, Lumity, has all the benefits of AutoSense OS integrated with 24 years of innovation in machine learning and evidence-based SmartSpeech Technology features like StereoZoom 2.0, SpeechSensor, Dynamic Noise Cancellation, and Roger™, patients can feel confident about accepting a dinner or party invitation knowing they can participate in conversations more easily. 

As an encouraging HCP, I’m sure you share the great news for those seeking hearing healthcare:  Hearing aid use has been reported to enable better engagement in group activities and to positively impact relationships.1 Hearing well frees up cognitive resources so your patients can be nimble, even in acoustically challenging situations. 

For support and guidance on how hearing aids can improve overall well-being visit and for more evidence visit .


  1. Timmer, B. H. B., Bennett, R. J., Montano, J., Hickson, L., Weinstein, B., Wild, J., Ferguson, M., Holman, J. A., LeBeau, V., & Dyre, L. (2023). Social-emotional well-being and adult hearing loss: Clinical recommendations. International Journal of Audiology.
  2. Hickson, L. (2023, October 31). The Social Cure: Improving the health and well-being of your patients. Phonak Audiology Blog. Retrieved from, accessed April 2024.