It seems as if all our devices are getting stronger, smarter, and more compact. Taking up less space while having more functionality is the overall trend.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not a surprise. The world’s population is getting older and hearing problems, though they can have many different causes, are more common amongst older people. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe having trouble hearing, and because age is a better predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number will probably go up.
Naturally, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one individual with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing impairment? Let’s have them! Here are some of the innovations that are happening.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Whole Body
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Devices that offer different kinds of health tracking are nearly always worn and 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 newest hearing aids, which along with helping fix hearing difficulties such as tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and a whole lot more. Hearing aids also have the ability to track things that other wearables usually don’t, like the time spent conversing. How much social involvement you get can actually be an essential health metric, particularly as you age.
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have smoothly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the principal focus here is connectivity. Audio from a device, like a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth capable. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This type of technology is helping hearing aids function almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy music, movies, and more.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Similar to how Netflix suggests shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a milestone (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how ambitious your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid may make personalized recommendations. 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 push it even further, crowdsourcing information on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then aggregating the data. All this info enables the hearing aids to determine 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 possible sound.
Finally Losing The Batteries
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t require batteries? After all, making certain you’ve got spare batteries with you, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a continuous improvement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get faster charging time, longer use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.