J Acoust Soc Am. 2022 Mar;151(3):1476. doi: 10.1121/10.0009620.
Globally, noise exposure from occupational and nonoccupational sources is common, and, as a result, noise-induced hearing loss affects tens of millions of people. Occupational noise exposures have been studied and regulated for decades, but nonoccupational sound exposures are not well understood. The nationwide Apple Hearing Study, launched using the Apple research app in November 2019 (Apple Inc., Cupertino, CA), is characterizing the levels at which participants listen to headphone audio content, as well as their listening habits. This paper describes the methods of the study, which collects data from several types of hearing tests and uses the Apple Watch noise app to measure environmental sound levels and cardiovascular metrics. Participants, all of whom have consented to participate and share their data, have already contributed nearly 300 × 106 h of sound measurements and 200 000 hearing assessments. The preliminary results indicate that environmental sound levels have been higher, on average, than headphone audio, about 10% of the participants have a diagnosed hearing loss, and nearly 20% of the participants have hearing difficulty. The study’s analyses will promote understanding of the overall exposures to sound and associated impacts on hearing and cardiovascular health. This study also demonstrates the feasibility of collecting clinically relevant exposure and health data outside of traditional research settings.