There are lots of reasons why the Apple Watch has no rival, but even if you’re not attracted to the style or more techie features, it’s hard to argue with the fact that it’s proven time and time again to improve the quality of life for many users through its health and fitness features, even to the point of actually saving lives.
By now, of course most people are probably aware of features on the Apple Watch like heart rate monitoring, emergency calling, and the newer ECG and Fall Detection features of the Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 5 models, all of which have helped detect deadly heart conditions and other life-threatening medical conditions as well as save people from drowning, seizures, cycling accidents, and even car crashes.
Now, however, a new human interest story in People highlights how the Apple Watch is improving quality of life in another surprising way — helping a 21 year old Texas man on the autism spectrum manage his social interactions so that he can lead a more normal life, thanks to the new Noise app found in watchOS 6.
It’s an unanticipated way to use the Noise app, which was introduced by Apple as a way to protect users’ hearing by alerting them to unsafe ambient noise levels, but it goes to show how many of the features in the Apple Watch can have unexpected payoffs.
“We Had Tried Everything”
As the story notes, Sam Bennett is a very sociable and personable 21-year-old man who happens to be on the autism spectrum, and as a result has long struggled with an “exceptionally loud speaking voice” that affects his ability to interact normally with others.
As Sam’s father, Scott, tells People, “He just never had the ability modulate it.” The family has been struggling with the issue ever since Sam started talking as a young boy, and Scott notes that his “voice level is really, really, really loud.”
While Sam responds when asked to use his “inside voice,” it doesn’t last due to his short attention span, and as a result his noise levels always rise again.
We just can’t go places. He’s also got a short attention span, too, so you put all these things together, and it’s hard on the family. You learn to adapt, but it’s always tough, and especially for a guy like me who thrives on silence, I got blessed with the loudest human being on the planet.Scott Bennett
After updating his Apple Watch to watchOS 6, however, Scott stumbled across the Noise app, and after observing how it identified high decibel levels by turning yellow, it occurred to him that he could try it with Sam.
A More Peaceful Household
He showed the app to his son, explaining how his voice could make the app “go from green to yellow” and Sam immediately took to using his own voice to make it work, talking really quietly to keep the indicator in the green range.
He immediately saw that and started using his own voice to make it work, and then immediately started talking really quietly. I was like, you gotta be kidding me. My wife is not gonna believe this. I don’t believe what I’m seeing.Scott Bennett
In the weeks since Scott discovered the Noise app, Sam has continued to respond to the visual cues to adjust his volume, and Scott notes that the household has been a lot more “peaceful” to the point that even the family dog no longer wants to run out of the room when Sam starts speaking.
Scott hopes that the trend will continue to the point where he will be able to take Sam out to more places, such as attending a golf tournament, since his son loves to golf. However, Scott also wishes that this technology had existed when Sam was a child, as he believes it could have made a huge difference if Sam had been able to regularly gauge his voice levels on his own while growing up.
To that end, Scott has actually taken to Facebook to share his discovery with other parents who have children with special needs, and says he’s already received more than 100 responses from people who are excited to try out the app. As Scott points out, there are millions of people who have different special needs out there who simply don’t have the time to figure out all of the technological solutions that may be available to them. Scott feels fortunate that he just happened to stumble across the Noise app.