Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Taking up less space while having more functionality is the general trend.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not surprising. Though hearing problems have many different causes, hearing difficulties are more prevalent among older people, and the world’s population is getting older. According to the National Institutes of Health, around 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians report having trouble hearing, and because age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to go up.
Of course, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one person with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Better ways to decrease hearing loss? Let’s have them! Here are some of the advancements that are happening.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire Body
This one seems as if it should be obvious. Health and fitness trackers have to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? The answer is no. Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which in addition to helping fix hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also keep track of your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Sure, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can give you other kinds of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend having conversations or listening. How much social involvement you get can actually be an essential health metric, particularly as you get older.
Connectivity is the primary watchword, as virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices seamlessly. Audio from a device, like a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth compatible. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio directly to hearing aids. This technology is making things like movies and music more satisfying by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Your next hearing aid might make personalized recommendations much like how a Fitbit alerts you to fitness objectives or how Netflix recommends your next movie based on your viewing trend. Several manufacturers are working on hearing aids that will learn both from the adjustments you make and from listening to the places you go. Some take it one step further, crowdsourcing information on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. All this info allows the hearing aids to ascertain your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re at home watching TV or you’re in an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best sound.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t require their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? It can be really inconvenient making certain you have spare batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant advancement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get quicker charging time, longer use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.