Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Taking up less space while doing more is the general trend.
So it’s no surprise that hearing aids are no exception. Though hearing problems have a number of causes, hearing issues are more common amongst older individuals, and the world’s population is getting older. According to the National Institutes of Health, around 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians describe having difficulty hearing, and because age is a better predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number will probably increase.
Naturally, if you’re dealing with 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! Innovations are happening, here are some.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire Body
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Devices that provide different kinds of health tracking are almost always worn and have to be worn close to the body. So, if you already have a device that’s in your ear… do you actually need another one on your wrist? The answer is no. Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which along with helping correct for hearing difficulties such as tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Hearing aids can also monitor things that other wearables normally don’t, like the duration of conversations. How much social engagement you get can actually be an important health metric, particularly as you age.
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the primary focus here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that offer Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for example, to the hearing aids. Google published open-source standards 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 enjoyable by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies according to what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how committed your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid might 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 data on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. All this information enables the hearing aids to figure out your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re watching TV at home or you’re in an IMAX theater (for instance), you’ll get the best possible sound.
Finally Losing The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t need their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? It can be very 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.