Researchers at The University of Auckland are developing a first in class interactive gaming system that offers a treatment for sufferers of tinnitus, a constant, often high-pitched ringing in the ears that can be debilitating. Tinnitus is a common result of hearing loss, and currently there are no effective treatments for the condition. The simple auditory gaming system in development can be customised to the individual's condition. Four training applications work to exercise and improve sound categorisation, discrimination and localisation. In the game, correct navigation is directed through auditory cues – responding to "good" sounds is positively rewarded, and responding to "bad" sounds is negatively rewarded. The listening tasks become progressively harder as the game continues. Over time, players are trained to not hear their tinnitus. Initial tests have shown significant auditory improvement. Other applications for this technology are in hyperacusis, Auditory Processing Disorder, and in developing the hearing of those who have had cochlear implants or started to use hearing aids.
Provisional patent 593160, 'Interactive Gaming System', was filed by UniServices in May 2011. This patent covers an interactive gaming system for auditory training rehabilitation relating to tinnitus.