Woman wearing hearing aids climbing hill with family and laughing at a joke.

Have you utilized your ear trumpet lately? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.

The basic shape of the modern hearing aid was developed in the 1950s. And that old model hearing aid is generally the one we remember and envision. The trouble is that a hearing aid developed in the 1950s is just about as out-dated as a hearing trumpet. We need to really expand our thinking if we want to understand how much more advanced modern hearing aids are.

Hearing Aids, Then And Now

It’s worthwhile to have some context concerning where hearing aids began to be able to better perceive how sophisticated they have become. If we follow the history back far enough, you can most likely find some type of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (whether any of them ever actually helped you hear better is probably unlikely).

The “ear trumpet” was probably the first marginally effective hearing assistance approach. This construct was shaped like, well, a long horn. You would put the small end inside your ear so that the wide end pointed out. These, um, devices weren’t really high tech, but they did offer some measurable help.

The real innovation came once someone invited electricity to the party. The hearing aid that we are familiar with was essentially created in the 1950s. They were fairly basic, relying on transistors and large, antiquated batteries to effectively work. But these gadgets represent the beginning of a hearing aid that could easily be worn and concealed. Admittedly, modern hearing aids might share the same shape and mission as those early 1950s models–but their performance goes light years beyond what was conceivable 7 decades ago.

Hearing Aid’s Modern Features

Bottom line, modern hearing aids are technological wonders. And they’re always developing. In numerous significant ways, modern hearing aids have been utilizing the digital technology of the later twentieth century. Power is the first and most crucial way. Earlier versions contained batteries that had less power in a larger space than their present counterparts.

And with that greater power comes a long list of sophisticated advances:

  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss usually manifests as loss of specific wavelengths and frequencies of sound. Maybe low frequency sound is hard to hear (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are much more efficient because they can boost only the frequencies you have a hard time hearing.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids are usually constructed out of advanced materials, so they feel more comfortable. These new materials enable hearing aids to be lighter and more robust simultaneously. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have improved on the outside as well as the inside by adding long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
  • Health monitoring: Sophisticated Health tracking software is also included in modern hearing aid options. For example, some hearing aids can recognize whether you’ve fallen. Other functions can count your steps or give you exercise motivation.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids are now able to connect to other devices via wireless Bluetooth technology. You will use this function every day. Older hearing aids, for example, would have annoying feedback when you would attempt to talk on the telephone. With contemporary hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. You will also utilize Bluetooth connectivity to engage in a wide variety of other electronic activities. Because there’s no feedback or interference, it’s easier to listen to music, watch TV–you name it.
  • Speech recognition: For many hearing aid users, the supreme objective of these devices is to enable communication. Many hearing aids, then, have integrated speech recognition software created to separate and amplify voices primarily–from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y meeting hall, this feature comes in handy in many scenarios.

Just like rotary phones no longer represent long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer capture what these devices are. Hearing aids aren’t what they used to be. And that’s a positive thing–because now they’re even better.

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