This mobile app could offer sweet relief from tinnitus

Diapason says it developed the app with input from tinnitus experts.

There's no magic cure for tinnitus. If you're one of the millions that suffer from this condition -- a strange ringing or buzzing in the ear -- coping can be a constant struggle. Diapason, a French startup, has distilled some of the best treatments into a mobile app that people can use anywhere. It offers a series of three-to-five minute activities, served through daily collections, that are personalized to the particular frequency or pitch that your ears are struggling with. The activities are basically mini-games that can, the company claims, deliver tangible results in as little as two weeks.

To be perfectly clear: I don't suffer from tinnitus. (Even if I did, I couldn't vouch for its effectiveness during a 10-minute demo at CES.) Co-founder Renaud Seguier assured me, however, that the app had been developed with leading tinnitus experts including Alain Londero, a medical doctor that specializes in ENT (ear, nose, threat) conditions. The company is also working with CHU de Rennes, a hospital in France, to refine the mini-games and validate their long-term benefits. According to Diapason's website, the app has been approved as a class I medical device by ANSM, the national agency for medicine and health product safety in France, too.

The games are colorful and deceptively simple. One moment, I was tapping on stars and creating picturesque constellations. The next, I was slotting Tetris-style bricks together to build a house. Every interaction has an impact on the sound, which is set to the frequency and bandwidth of your tinnitus. None of the games are particularly challenging, but that's by design -- they're meant to be relaxing and obscure the fact that you're working through some acoustic re-education or cognitive and behavioral therapy (CBT). You'll need headphones, but the idea is that you can complete them while commuting to work or waiting for a cup of coffee.

Diapason's app is launching today for iOS and Android. It's free to try but you'll need a subscription for full-time access, which costs €12.50 per month, or €149 per year, through the company's website. If you sign up through the app, you'll be charged a little more (Diapason is doing this to offset the cut Google and Apple take through their respective stores.)