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.)