You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. This is particularly true with regard to hearing aids. The days when hearing aids merely increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids use AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that uses data inputs to generate new results. AI is able to use an algorithm to engage in a type of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every individual result because the algorithm does that on its own.
Depending on the degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your behaviors and your requirements. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear because of this.
How can AI help hearing aids work better?
This might seem a bit abstract initially. After all, hearing aids seem to have a pretty basic function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and dials. (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better quality of sound can be obtained by adjusting these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a rich neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time conditions because of this.
This might sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming based on your viewing history. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your emAIl provider utilizes it to auto-sort emAIls into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Presently, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was wearing masks, which was good, but definitely made conversations with a hearing aid more challenging. You can stay safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each individual room you walk into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. You will hear better in nearly any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has a lot of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. Cross talk, for example, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy setting.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. In essence, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then activates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
This is most likely only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has kind of become a bit of a buzzword. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can occasionally result in confusion. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
First, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more beneficial to patients. New technologies, including machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it’s not just hearing aids. In the future, AI might be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, unlike other industries. These machine learning algorithms offer some considerable advantages to patients. Here are some of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this often translates into hearing better more often.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array 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.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be capable of detecting the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health information easier to understand, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating better, or just hydrating more.
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that those who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful when it comes to managing their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide spectrum of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. Having said that, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. It most likely just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
What this means for patients
For individuals with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently become real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location program. If you return to a specific location or sound profile, AI can activate these algorithms. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your brain will have a reduced cognitive burden.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- You will have improved quality of life.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not offered in most hearing aids because of the costs involved. An algorithm is, after all, an intricate math equation. But prices are decreasing, 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 automatically be less expensive in the near future. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI functions are becoming more widely obtainable and prevalent.
Deciding what’s best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the added cost. To someone who is socially active and finds themselves in scenarios with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a huge 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 easier and the user will feel less exhausted with AI hearing aids. When the doorbell rings, or when you have a fall AI technology can alert you or a loved one and it can even track your steps. Hearing aids will keep improving as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Make an appointment with us right away.