When someone talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it may arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get used to. With regard to hearing aids, this is especially true. The times when hearing aids simply boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a type of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal needs based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear because of this.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may seem a bit abstract at first. After all, hearing aids seem to have a pretty straightforward function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and dials. (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Changing these settings can deliver better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without requiring you to do anything.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to imitate human brain responses. As a result of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to conditions without being programmed to deal with them.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to recommend movies based on your viewing history, though it probably sounds like space-aged technology at first. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more efficient they become at making correct decisions.
New advancements in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each individual room you go into. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic adjustments that let you hear better in almost any environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly tougher during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has lots of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. Cross talk, for instance, can often be hard on a hearing aid. But even in a noisy environment, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the individual across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Essentially, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are constantly developing new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.
AI for the field of audiology
These days, AI has sort of become a bit of a buzzword. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can occasionally lead to confusion. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
First, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But it’s not just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will likely do in the future.
As the technology develops and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new thing. Some significant advantages to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those benefits are the following:
- Social engagement: With regard to managing social interaction, individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some research. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. Having said that, it’s not completely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life healthy. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better preserve their relationships.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this often means hearing better more frequently.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be capable of detecting the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones in the event of a severe fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health information easier to understand.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages for people with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will create a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various kinds of sounds it picks up. If you go back to a specific location or sound profile, AI can activate these programs. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- The cognitive load will be reduced.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- Your quality of life will get better.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
There was a time when AI was not offered in the vast majority of hearing aids because of the costs involved. After all, the device itself has to perform some intense calculations (an algorithm, of course, is basically a very elegant math problem). But prices are coming down, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less costly in the near future. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more widely available.
Figuring out what option is best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be too much for somebody who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To someone who is socially active and finds themselves in scenarios with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less exhausted with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to too.
How can AI technology help you? Make an appointment with us right away.